When noise makes sense: functional benefits of stochasticity in biological control networks
A large body of evidence has shown in recent years the pervasiveness of random fluctuations in biological networks. In the light of this fact, it is worth asking whether biological systems have evolved to filter noise out or to use it. In this talk I will discuss several examples of the latter possibility, including evidence of noise-induced coherence in neuronal cortical networks, information routing driven by chatter in signaling networks, stochastic bet hedging in bacterial gene regulatory circuits, and decision priming in protein interaction networks driven by noisy transcription. Together, these observations hint at a scenario in which randomness is not detrimental but beneficial to the behavior of biological control networks.