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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Apr;9(4):292-303. doi: 10.1038/nrn2258.

Noise in the nervous system.

Author information

1
Computational and Biological Learning Lab, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1PZ, UK. aaf23@cam.ac.uk

Abstract

Noise--random disturbances of signals--poses a fundamental problem for information processing and affects all aspects of nervous-system function. However, the nature, amount and impact of noise in the nervous system have only recently been addressed in a quantitative manner. Experimental and computational methods have shown that multiple noise sources contribute to cellular and behavioural trial-to-trial variability. We review the sources of noise in the nervous system, from the molecular to the behavioural level, and show how noise contributes to trial-to-trial variability. We highlight how noise affects neuronal networks and the principles the nervous system applies to counter detrimental effects of noise, and briefly discuss noise's potential benefits.

PMID:
18319728
PMCID:
PMC2631351
DOI:
10.1038/nrn2258
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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