Behavior needs neural variability

Behavior needs neural variability 

Leonhard Waschke,1,2,6,* Niels A. Kloosterman,1,2 Jonas Obleser,3,4,5 and Douglas D. Garrett Q1 1,2,5

1Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, 14195 Berlin, Germany 

2Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, 14195 Berlin, Germany 

3Department of Psychology, University of Lubeck, 23562 L € ubeck, Germany € 

4Center for Brain, Behaviour, and Metabolism, University of Lubeck, 23562 L € ubeck, Germany € 

5These authors contributed equally 

6Twitter: @LeoWaschke 

*Correspondence: waschke@mpib-berlin.mpg.de 

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2021.01.023 

SUMMARY 

Human and non-human animal behavior is highly malleable and adapts successfully to internal and external demands. Such behavioral success stands in striking contrast to the apparent instability in neu ral activity (i.e., variability) from which it arises. Here, we summon the considerable evidence across scales, species, and imaging modalities that neural variability represents a key, undervalued dimension for understanding brain-behavior relationships at inter- and intra-individual levels. We believe that only by incorporating a specific focus on variability will the neural foundation of behavior be comprehensively understood. 

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