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Neuronal noise is the term that describes random activity of neurons that presumably is not associated with encoding of behaviorally relevant variables. Many neuroscientists consider neuronal noise a factor that limits the capacity of information processing by the brain. Thus, Patrick Wilken and colleagues have suggested that neuronal noise is the principal factor that limits the capacity of visual short-term memory. Investigators of neural ensembles, and especially those who support the theory of distributed processing, propose that large neuronal populations effectively decrease noise by averaging out the noise in individual neurons.

Some investigators consider neuronal noise a possible mechanism to facilitate neuronal processing.