Studying mouse vision with an eagle’s eye
Although we have made tremendous progress in understanding how the brain works, we have likely just scratched the tip of the iceberg. Neuronal plasticity, or the ability of the brain’s circuitry to change structurally and functionally, underlies learning and memory. There are many different types of both. When it comes to associating a visual stimulus with a reward – as Pavlov’s dogs associated an auditory stimulus with food – the cellular mechanisms underlying the experience-dependent changes in neural response in the primary visual cortex (V1) are not well understood. Local circuits (for example, inhibitory interneurons) and feedback from other regions likely play a role in the adaptive responses of primary sensory cortex neurons. The EU-funded project SweetVision is evaluating the neuronal circuits underlying the dynamic regulation of V1 neuronal responses that optimize information processing for behaviorally relevant stimuli, such as those associated with a reward, while suppressing responses to irrelevant stimuli that may act as distractors.
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