Behavioral states, network states, and sensory response variability

J Neurophysiol. 2008 Sep;100(3):1160-8. doi: 10.1152/jn.90592.2008. Epub 2008 Jul 9.


We review data demonstrating that single-neuron sensory responses change with the states of the neural networks (indexed in terms of spectral properties of local field potentials) in which those neurons are embedded. We start with broad network changes--different levels of anesthesia and sleep--and then move to studies demonstrating that the sensory response plasticity associated with attention and experience can also be conceptualized as functions of network state changes. This leads naturally to the recent data that can be interpreted to suggest that even brief experience can change sensory responses via changes in network states and that trial-to-trial variability in sensory responses is a nonrandom function of network fluctuations, as well. We suggest that the CNS may have evolved specifically to deal with stimulus variability and that the coupling with network states may be central to sensory processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology*