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  Mouse prefrontal cortex represents learned rules for categorization

Reinert, S., Hübener, M., Bonhoeffer, T., & Goltstein, P. M. (2021). Mouse prefrontal cortex represents learned rules for categorization. Nature, 593(7859), 411-417. doi:10.1038/s41586-021-03452-z.

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Genre: Journal Article

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Reinert, Sandra1, Author           
Hübener, Mark1, Author           
Bonhoeffer, Tobias1, Author           
Goltstein, Pieter M.1, Author           
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1Department: Synapses-Circuits-Plasticity / Bonhoeffer, MPI of Neurobiology, Max Planck Society, ou_1113545              

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Free keywords: BEHAVIORAL FLEXIBILITY; VISUAL CATEGORIZATION; CELLULAR RESOLUTION; MIXED SELECTIVITY; NEURAL ACTIVITY; RATS; DECONVOLUTION; SOFTWARE; IMPLICITScience & Technology - Other Topics;
 Abstract: The ability to categorize sensory stimuli is crucial for an animal's survival in a complex environment. Memorizing categories instead of individual exemplars enables greater behavioural flexibility and is computationally advantageous. Neurons that show category selectivity have been found in several areas of the mammalian neocortex(1-4), but the prefrontal cortex seems to have a prominent role(4,5) in this context. Specifically, in primates that are extensively trained on a categorization task, neurons in the prefrontal cortex rapidly and flexibly represent learned categories(6,7). However, how these representations first emerge in naive animals remains unexplored, leaving it unclear whether flexible representations are gradually built up as part of semantic memory or assigned more or less instantly during task execution(8,9). Here we investigate the formation of a neuronal category representation throughout the entire learning process by repeatedly imaging individual cells in the mouse medial prefrontal cortex. We show that mice readily learn rule-based categorization and generalize to novel stimuli. Over the course of learning, neurons in the prefrontal cortex display distinct dynamics in acquiring category selectivity and are differentially engaged during a later switch in rules. A subset of neurons selectively and uniquely respond to categories and reflect generalization behaviour. Thus, a category representation in the mouse prefrontal cortex is gradually acquired during learning rather than recruited ad hoc. This gradual process suggests that neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex are part of a specific semantic memory for visual categories.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2021-05-20
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: 24
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Degree: -

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Title: Nature
  Abbreviation : Nature
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: London : Nature Publishing Group
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 593 (7859) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 411 - 417 Identifier: ISSN: 0028-0836
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954925427238