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Journal Article

Visual exposure enhances stimulus encoding and persistence in primary cortex

MPS-Authors

Lazar,  Andreea
Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, Max Planck Society;
Singer Lab, Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, Max Planck Society;

Lewis,  Christopher
Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, Max Planck Society;
Fries Lab, Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, Max Planck Society;

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Fries,  Pascal       
Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, Max Planck Society;
Fries Lab, Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, Max Planck Society;

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Singer,  Wolf       
Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, Max Planck Society;
Singer Lab, Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, Max Planck Society;

Nikolic,  Danko
Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Lazar, A., Lewis, C., Fries, P., Singer, W., & Nikolic, D. (2021). Visual exposure enhances stimulus encoding and persistence in primary cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(43): e2105276118. doi:10.1073/pnas.2105276118.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-D143-F
Abstract
The brain adapts to the sensory environment. For example, simple sensory exposure can modify the response properties of early sensory neurons. How these changes affect the overall encoding and maintenance of stimulus information across neuronal populations remains unclear. We perform parallel recordings in the primary visual cortex of anesthetized cats and find that brief, repetitive exposure to structured visual stimuli enhances stimulus encoding by decreasing the selectivity and increasing the range of the neuronal responses that persist after stimulus presentation. Low-dimensional projection methods and simple classifiers demonstrate that visual exposure increases the segregation of persistent neuronal population responses into stimulus-specific clusters. These observed refinements preserve the representational details required for stimulus reconstruction and are detectable in postexposure spontaneous activity. Assuming response facilitation and recurrent network interactions as the core mechanisms underlying stimulus persistence, we show that the exposure-driven segregation of stimulus responses can arise through strictly local plasticity mechanisms, also in the absence of firing rate changes. Our findings provide evidence for the existence of an automatic, unguided optimization process that enhances the encoding power of neuronal populations in early visual cortex, thus potentially benefiting simple readouts at higher stages of visual processing.