Behavior needs neural variability

Leonhard Waschke*, Niels A. Kloosterman, Jonas Obleser, Douglas D. Garrett

*Corresponding author for this work
89 Citations (Scopus)


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 neural 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. Successful behavior arises from brain activity exhibiting remarkable variability. Summoning evidence across species, scales, and techniques, Waschke et al. argue that neural variability represents a key, undervalued dimension essential for understanding inter- and intra-individual associations between brain and behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)751-766
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 03.03.2021

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)

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