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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2010 Apr;20(2):166-71. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2010.03.003. Epub 2010 Mar 30.

Neural correlations, decisions, and actions.

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Center for Neural Science, New York University, 4 Washington Pl., New York, NY 10003, USA.


Multielectrode recording experiments let us measure correlations between the activity of individual neurons and the neural circuits in which they are embedded. Recently, multielectrode studies have been emphasizing how correlated neuronal activity is linked with behavior. Decisions are fundamental to voluntary behavior. Here, we discuss computations necessary to turn a decision into an action and review progress in studying correlated neural activity in areas of the brain which link sensory and motor representations. The themes that emerge are that correlated patterns of activity in populations of neurons can be revealed by measurements of field potential fluctuations and that these measurements can relate the activity of individual neurons to the activity of populations of neurons distributed across different regions of the brain. Investigations into patterns of neuronal correlation are helping us to understand how decisions and other cognitive processes result from the interactions between different brain systems that are responsible for controlling and regulating our behavior.

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