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2 Publications

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    06/17/15 | Learning enhances sensory and multiple non-sensory representations in primary visual cortex.
    Poort J, Khan AG, Pachitariu M, Nemri A, Orsolic I, Krupic J, Bauza M, Sahani M, Keller GB, Mrsic-Flogel TD, Hofer SB
    Neuron. 2015 Jun 17;86(6):1478-90. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.05.037

    We determined how learning modifies neural representations in primary visual cortex (V1) during acquisition of a visually guided behavioral task. We imaged the activity of the same layer 2/3 neuronal populations as mice learned to discriminate two visual patterns while running through a virtual corridor, where one pattern was rewarded. Improvements in behavioral performance were closely associated with increasingly distinguishable population-level representations of task-relevant stimuli, as a result of stabilization of existing and recruitment of new neurons selective for these stimuli. These effects correlated with the appearance of multiple task-dependent signals during learning: those that increased neuronal selectivity across the population when expert animals engaged in the task, and those reflecting anticipation or behavioral choices specifically in neuronal subsets preferring the rewarded stimulus. Therefore, learning engages diverse mechanisms that modify sensory and non-sensory representations in V1 to adjust its processing to task requirements and the behavioral relevance of visual stimuli.

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    02/04/15 | State-dependent population coding in primary auditory cortex.
    Pachitariu M, Lyamzin DR, Sahani M, Lesica NA
    The Journal of Neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2015 Feb 04;35(5):2058-73. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3318-14.2015

    Sensory function is mediated by interactions between external stimuli and intrinsic cortical dynamics that are evident in the modulation of evoked responses by cortical state. A number of recent studies across different modalities have demonstrated that the patterns of activity in neuronal populations can vary strongly between synchronized and desynchronized cortical states, i.e., in the presence or absence of intrinsically generated up and down states. Here we investigated the impact of cortical state on the population coding of tones and speech in the primary auditory cortex (A1) of gerbils, and found that responses were qualitatively different in synchronized and desynchronized cortical states. Activity in synchronized A1 was only weakly modulated by sensory input, and the spike patterns evoked by tones and speech were unreliable and constrained to a small range of patterns. In contrast, responses to tones and speech in desynchronized A1 were temporally precise and reliable across trials, and different speech tokens evoked diverse spike patterns with extremely weak noise correlations, allowing responses to be decoded with nearly perfect accuracy. Restricting the analysis of synchronized A1 to activity within up states yielded similar results, suggesting that up states are not equivalent to brief periods of desynchronization. These findings demonstrate that the representational capacity of A1 depends strongly on cortical state, and suggest that cortical state should be considered as an explicit variable in all studies of sensory processing.

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