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Mouse primary visual cortex is not part of the reverberant neural circuitry critical for visual perception

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Watanabe,  M
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Watanabe, M. (2017). Mouse primary visual cortex is not part of the reverberant neural circuitry critical for visual perception. Talk presented at 5th Mini-Symposium on Cognition, Decision-Making and Social Function: In Memory of Kang Cheng. Wakō, Japan.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0000-C570-3
Abstract
The primary visual cortex (V1) is the main source of visual input to downstream cortical areas; it is a long-standing question, however, whether V1 activity is critical for conscious visual perception[1]. Previous studies have exploited visual illusions that render stimuli invisible, such as binocular rivalry (our own work that I will briefly introduce:[2]) or backward masking, but have provided conflicting results. Moreover, in these paradigms, the role of a candidate area in visual perception was often based on correlations between its neural activity and subjective reports of visibility. Mere correlations, however, may reflect spurious relationships, and ultimate answers about an area’s contribution to perception will require methods demonstrating causality. Here we provide a causal test of V1’s role in perception by porting the backward masking paradigm to the mouse model, where we combine behavior, electrophysiology, and optogenetic manipulations of neural activity. We first demonstrate that the behavioral signatures of visual backward masking known from humans and non-human primate are also present in the mouse. We t hen characterize a prolonged response component of V1 neurons, which is indeed correlated with the mouse’s report of visibility. Despite this correlation, we find that this prolonged V1 response component is not causally linked to perception, because tempo rally precise suppression of it leaves behavioral performance fully intact. We conclude that V1 functions as an input source of visual information to later areas, but is not part of the circuitry critical for visual perception.