Variability in Biological Systems


Cellular Neurophysiology

Calvin W. H. and Stevens C. F. (1967) Synaptic noise and other sources of randomness in motoneuron interspike intervals . ????? ???: 574-587.

Calvin W. H. and Stevens C. F. (1967) Synaptic noise as a source of variability in the interval between action potentials. Science155: 842-844.

Cecci G. A., Sigman M., Alonso J., Martinez L., Chialvo D. R., and Magnasco M. O. (2000) Noise in neurons is message dependent. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 97: 5557-5561.

Cordo P., Inglis J. T., Verschueren S., Collins J. J., Merfeld D. M., Rosenblum S., Buckley S., and Moss F. (1996) Noise in human muscle spindles. Nature 383: 769-770.

Collins J. J., Imhoff T. T., and Grigg P. (1996) Noise-enhanced tactile sensation. Nature 383: 770.

Cordo P., Inglis J. T., Verschueren S., Collins J. J., Merfeld D. M., Rosenblum S., Buckley S., and Moss F. (1996) Noise in human muscle spindles. Nature 383: 769-770.

Croner L. J. (1993) Response variability in retinal ganglion cells of primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 90: 8128-8130.

Douglass J. K., Wilkens L., Pantazelou E., and Moss F. (1993) Noise enhancement of information transfer in crayfish mechanoreceptors by stochastic resonance. Nature 365: 337-340.

Moss F. and Wiesenfeld K. (1995) The benefits of background noise. Scientific American 143: 66-69.

Pinato G., Parodi P., Bisso A., Macri D., Kawana A., Jimbo Y., and Torre V. (1999) Properties of the evoked spatio-temporal electrical activity in neuronal assemblies.  Reviews in the Neurosciences 10: 279-290.

Holt G. R, Softky W. R., Koch C., and Douglas R. J. (1996) Comparison of discharge variability in vitro and in vivo in cat visual cortex neurons. Journal of Neurophysiology 75: 1806-1814.

Mainen Z. F. and Sejnowski T. J. (1995) Reliability of spike timing in neocortical neurons. Science 268: 1503-1506.

Neuronal Networks

Arieli A., Sterkin A., Grinvald A., and Aersten A. (1996) Dynamics of ongoing activity: Explanation of the large variability in evoked cortical responses. Science 273: 1868-1871.

Chialvo D. R. and Apkarian A. V. (1993) Modulated noisy biological dynamics: Three examples. Journal of Statistical Physics 70: 375-391.

Goldberger A. L., Rigney D. R., Mietus J., Antman E. M., and Greenwald S. (1988) Nonlinear dynamics in sudden cardiac death syndrome: Heartrate oscillations and bifurcations. Experientia 44: 983-987.

Greene P. H. (1962) On looking for neural networks and "cell assemblies" that underlie behavior: I. A Mathematical Model. Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics 24: 247-274.

Reinis S. (1997) Some principles for decoding local neuronal systems in the mammalian central nervous system. Neural Network World 7: 205-225. (also available on www at:

Schellart N. A. M. and Spekreijse H. (1973) Origin of the stochastic nature of ganglion cell activity in isolated goldfish retina. Vision Research 13: 337-345.

Schadlen M.N. and Newsome W.T. (1994) Noise, neural codes, and cortical organization. Curr Opin. Neurobiology 4: 569-579.

noise in search for global minimum- Rummelhart, McClelland?


Abbs J. H. and Cole K. J. (1987) Neural mechanisms of motor equivalence and goal achievement. In: Higher Brain Functions: Recent Explorations of the Brain's Emergent Properties, S. P. Wise ed., John Wiley and Sons, pp.15-43.

Carpenter R. H. S. (1999) A neural mechanism that randomises behaviour.  Journal of Consciousness Studies 6: 13-22.

Fiske D. W. and Maddi S. R. (1961) Functions of Varied Experience. Dorsey Press, Homewood, Ill.

Grobstein P. (1994) Variability in brain function and behavior. Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, volume 4. Academic Press.

Krechevsky I. (1936) Brain Mechanisms and Variability, I. Variability within a means-end-readiness. Journal of Comparative Psychology 23: 121-138.

Krechevsky I. (1936) Brain Mechanisms and Variability, II. Variability where no learning is involved. Journal of Comparative Psychology 23: 139-159.

Krechevsky I. (1936) Brain Mechanisms and Variability, III. Limitations of the effect of cortical injury upon variability. Journal of Comparative Psychology 23: 351-364.

Neuringer A. (1986) Can people behave "randomly?": The role of feedback. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 115: 62-75.

Newell K. M., Slifkin A. B. (1998) The nature of movement variability. in Motor behavior and human skill: a multidisciplinary approach. Jan P. Piek ed. Human Kinetics, Champaign, Il.

Ratcliff R. and Rouder J. N. (1998) Modeling response times for two-choice decisions. Psychological Science 9: 347-356 .

Russell D. F., Wilkens L. A., and Moss F. (1999) Use of behavioural stochastic resonance by paddle fish for feeding. Nature 402: 291-294.

Stokes P. D. (1995) Learned variability. Animal Learning and Behavior 23:164-176.

Willis M. A. and Arbas E. A. (1997) Centrally patterned behavior generates sensory input for adaptive control. in Neurons, networks and motor behavior. S. G. Stein, ed. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Sherrington- decerebrate animals- "reflexes" more stereotyped


Krasne and Wine

Klintman- rat bar pressing

exploratory behavior rats, mice

Collective Behavior

Deneubourg J. L., Aron S., Goss S., Pasteels J. M., and Duerinck G. (1986) Random behavior, amplification processes and number of participants: How they contribute to the foraging properties of ants. Physica 22D: 176-186.

Deneubourg J. L., Pasteels J. M., and Verhaeghe J. C. (1983) Probabilistic behavior in ants: A strategy of errors? Journal of Theoretical Biology 105: 259-271.

Resnick - Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams


Brown K.T. (1955) Rate of apparent change n a dynamic ambiguous figure as a function of observation time. Am. J. Psychology 68: 358-371.

Haken, Kelso- multistable percepts

Learning and Education

Reilly J. L., Robertson S. S., MacLennan B. D., and Smotherman W. P. (1997) Variability in general activity and the expression of complex behavior in the fetal rat (Rattus norvegicus). Behavioral Neuroscience 111: 785-791.

Siegler R. S. (1995) How does change occur: A microgenetic study of number conservation. Cognitive Psychology 28: 225-273.

van der Meer A. L. H., van der Weel F. R., and Lee D. N. (1995) The functional significance of arm movements in neonates. Science 267: 693-695.




Immune System?

Baldwinian evolution- behavioral variability changes environ- new selective forces

Cultural evolution- language, rituals, fashion???