Neuronal responses during behavior are diverse, ranging from highly reliable ‘classical’ responses to irregular or seemingly-random ‘non-classically responsive’ firing. While a continuum of response properties is frequently observed across neural systems, little is known about the synaptic origins and contributions of diverse response profiles to network function, perception, and behavior. Here we use a task-performing, spiking recurrent neural network model incorporating spike-timing-dependent plasticity that captures heterogeneous responses measured from auditory cortex of behaving rodents. Classically responsive and non-classically responsive model units contributed to task performance via output and recurrent connections, respectively. Excitatory and inhibitory plasticity independently shaped spiking responses and task performance. Local patterns of synaptic inputs predicted spiking response properties of network units as well as the responses of auditory cortical neurons from in vivo whole-cell recordings during behavior. Thus a diversity of neural response profiles emerges from synaptic plasticity rules with distinctly important functions for network performance.