Coherent spontaneous activity accounts for trial-to-trial variability in human evoked brain responses

Nat Neurosci. 2006 Jan;9(1):23-5. doi: 10.1038/nn1616. Epub 2005 Dec 11.


Trial-to-trial variability in the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) response of functional magnetic resonance imaging has been shown to be relevant to human perception and behavior, but the sources of this variability remain unknown. We demonstrate that coherent spontaneous fluctuations in human brain activity account for a significant fraction of the variability in measured event-related BOLD responses and that spontaneous and task-related activity are linearly superimposed in the human brain.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Oxygen