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Hermundstad Lab / Publications
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14 Publications

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    08/03/20 | Efficient coding of natural scene statistics predicts discrimination thresholds for grayscale textures.
    Tesileanu T, Conte MM, Briguglio JJ, Hermundstad AM, Victor JD, Balasubramanian V
    eLife. 2020 Aug 3;9:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.54347

    Previously, in (Hermundstad et al., 2014), we showed that when sampling is limiting, the efficient coding principle leads to a 'variance is salience' hypothesis, and that this hypothesis accounts for visual sensitivity to binary image statistics. Here, using extensive new psychophysical data and image analysis, we show that this hypothesis accounts for visual sensitivity to a large set of grayscale image statistics at a striking level of detail, and also identify the limits of the prediction. We define a 66-dimensional space of local grayscale light-intensity correlations, and measure the relevance of each direction to natural scenes. The 'variance is salience' hypothesis predicts that two-point correlations are most salient, and predicts their relative salience. We tested these predictions in a texture-segregation task using un-natural, synthetic textures. As predicted, correlations beyond second order are not salient, and predicted thresholds for over 300 second-order correlations match psychophysical thresholds closely (median fractional error < 0:13).

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    11/20/19 | Generation of stable heading representations in diverse visual scenes.
    Kim SS, Hermundstad AM, Romani S, Abbott LF, Jayaraman V
    Nature. 2019 Nov 20;576(7785):126-31. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1767-1

    Many animals rely on an internal heading representation when navigating in varied environments. How this representation is linked to the sensory cues that define different surroundings is unclear. In the fly brain, heading is represented by 'compass' neurons that innervate a ring-shaped structure known as the ellipsoid body. Each compass neuron receives inputs from 'ring' neurons that are selective for particular visual features; this combination provides an ideal substrate for the extraction of directional information from a visual scene. Here we combine two-photon calcium imaging and optogenetics in tethered flying flies with circuit modelling, and show how the correlated activity of compass and visual neurons drives plasticity, which flexibly transforms two-dimensional visual cues into a stable heading representation. We also describe how this plasticity enables the fly to convert a partial heading representation, established from orienting within part of a novel setting, into a complete heading representation. Our results provide mechanistic insight into the memory-related computations that are essential for flexible navigation in varied surroundings.

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    07/10/18 | Adaptive coding for dynamic sensory inference.
    Młynarski WF, Hermundstad AM
    eLife. 2018 Jul 10;7:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.32055

    Behavior relies on the ability of sensory systems to infer properties of the environment from incoming stimuli. The accuracy of inference depends on the fidelity with which behaviorally relevant properties of stimuli are encoded in neural responses. High-fidelity encodings can be metabolically costly, but low-fidelity encodings can cause errors in inference. Here, we discuss general principles that underlie the tradeoff between encoding cost and inference error. We then derive adaptive encoding schemes that dynamically navigate this tradeoff. These optimal encodings tend to increase the fidelity of the neural representation following a change in the stimulus distribution, and reduce fidelity for stimuli that originate from a known distribution. We predict dynamical signatures of such encoding schemes and demonstrate how known phenomena, such as burst coding and firing rate adaptation, can be understood as hallmarks of optimal coding for accurate inference.

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    06/12/17 | Neural signatures of dynamic stimulus selection in Drosophila.
    Sun Y, Nern A, Franconville R, Dana H, Schreiter ER, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS, Hermundstad AM, Jayaraman V
    Nature Neuroscience. 2017 Jun 12;20(8):1104-13. doi: 10.1038/nn.4581

    Many animals orient using visual cues, but how a single cue is selected from among many is poorly understood. Here we show that Drosophila ring neurons—central brain neurons implicated in navigation—display visual stimulus selection. Using in vivo two-color two-photon imaging with genetically encoded calcium indicators, we demonstrate that individual ring neurons inherit simple-cell-like receptive fields from their upstream partners. Stimuli in the contralateral visual field suppressed responses to ipsilateral stimuli in both populations. Suppression strength depended on when and where the contralateral stimulus was presented, an effect stronger in ring neurons than in their upstream inputs. This history-dependent effect on the temporal structure of visual responses, which was well modeled by a simple biphasic filter, may determine how visual references are selected for the fly's internal compass. Our approach highlights how two-color calcium imaging can help identify and localize the origins of sensory transformations across synaptically connected neural populations.

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