The origin of within-subject variability in perceptual experiments is poorly understood. We here review evidence that baseline brain activity in the areas involved in sensory perception predict subsequent variations in sensory awareness. We place these findings in light of recent findings on the architecture of spontaneous BOLD fluctuations in the awake human brain, and discuss the possible origins of the observed baseline brain activity fluctuations. Hum Brain Mapp 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.