Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Neuroscience and BioMed Central.

This article is part of the supplement: Sixteenth Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting: CNS*2007

Open Access Oral presentation

Invited talk: The role of spontaneous activity in sensory processing

Larry Abbott

Author Affiliations

Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, USA

BMC Neuroscience 2007, 8(Suppl 2):S18  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-8-S2-S18

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:


Published:6 July 2007

© 2007 Abbott; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Oral presentation

Spontaneous, background activity in sensory areas is often similar in both magnitude and form to evoked responses. Embedding responses evoked by sensory stimuli in such strong and complex background activity seems like a confusing way to represent information about the outside world. However, modeling studies indicate that, contrary to intuition, information about sensory stimuli may be better conveyed by a network displaying chaotic background activity than in a network without spontaneous activity.