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Propagation of activity through the cortical hierarchy and perception are determined by neural variability

Rowland, JM; van der Plas, TL; Loidolt, M; Lees, RM; Keeling, J; Dehning, J; Akam, T; ... Packer, AM; + view all (2023) Propagation of activity through the cortical hierarchy and perception are determined by neural variability. Nature Neuroscience , 26 (9) pp. 1584-1594. 10.1038/s41593-023-01413-5. Green open access

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Abstract

Brains are composed of anatomically and functionally distinct regions performing specialized tasks, but regions do not operate in isolation. Orchestration of complex behaviors requires communication between brain regions, but how neural dynamics are organized to facilitate reliable transmission is not well understood. Here we studied this process directly by generating neural activity that propagates between brain regions and drives behavior, assessing how neural populations in sensory cortex cooperate to transmit information. We achieved this by imaging two densely interconnected regions—the primary and secondary somatosensory cortex (S1 and S2)—in mice while performing two-photon photostimulation of S1 neurons and assigning behavioral salience to the photostimulation. We found that the probability of perception is determined not only by the strength of the photostimulation but also by the variability of S1 neural activity. Therefore, maximizing the signal-to-noise ratio of the stimulus representation in cortex relative to the noise or variability is critical to facilitate activity propagation and perception.

Type: Article
Title: Propagation of activity through the cortical hierarchy and perception are determined by neural variability
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41593-023-01413-5
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-023-01413-5
Language: English
Additional information: © 2023 Springer Nature Limited. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Animals, Mice, Neurons, Brain, Parietal Lobe, Photons, Perception
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > UK Dementia Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10180935
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