A selection of items for display during the celebration:
Courtesy of Jeffrey Gavornik and the Bear Laboratory
The brain learns to anticipate sequences and can recreate meaning from limited, or noisy, information. Although each individual word of the text is garbled, the sentence can be easily read because the brain has learned to anticipate the correct sequence of letters based on prior experience. It is unknown where and how experience drives the neural plasticity that enables this ability. MIT researchers have now shown that this learning can occur in primary visual cortex, V1, where it can be studied in mice. The pseudocolor plots show patterns of cortical activation. The left half of the image shows the pattern evoked in V1 by the first element of a visual sequence, while the right half shows a similar response generated when the second element, based on the training, was expected but not presented. This surprising result suggests that the mechanistic bases of high-order cognitive spatiotemporal sequence learning can be studied in experimentally accessible sensory regions of the cortex.