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The organisation of functional microcircuits in visual cortex

Final Report Summary - NEUROVISION (The organisation of functional microcircuits in visual cortex)

The mammalian neocortex comprises multiple specialised regions that extract sensory features to make associations and generate internal representations. These representations account for our perception of the external world, orchestrate behaviour, and form the basis for most memories. Despite decades of research, which have generated a wealth of data about cortical circuits, we still lack a meaningful conceptual framework of what the neocortex actually computes and how it computes it within highly complex synaptic networks.
To address this question, the research in my laboratory has focused on uncovering the fundamental principles of neural circuit organization, how this organization relates to the computations that support visual function. Our approach was to (i) record activity in identified neurons in large ensembles to uncover the computations taking place during visual processing and visually-guided behaviours, (ii) deduce how these computations arise from the neural hardware: from the synaptic interactions between identified cell types that differ in the patterns of input and output connectivity. We hope that this work will provide a basis for understanding how computation within neocortex is altered in diseases such as schizophrenia or autism spectrum disorders.