Neural activity in cortex is correlated, an observation that has traditionally been attributed to neurons receiving input from a shared and limited presynaptic pool. Recent studies have shown that correlations are also strongly influenced by network fluctuations that operate over a range of spatial and temporal scales, extending in some cases across cortical areas. These fluctuations are sensitive to internal states and external drive, so that correlations themselves depend strongly on cognitive state and stimulus properties. Given the potential impact on population coding, this modulation of correlations may play an important role in sensory processing.
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