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How does the cerebral cortex work? Learning, attention, and grouping by the laminar circuits of visual cortex

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

The organization of neocortex into layers is one of its most salient anatomical features. These layers include circuits that form functional columns in cortical maps. A major unsolved problem concerns how bottom-up, top-down, and horizontal interactions are organized within cortical layers to generate adaptive behaviors. This article models how these interactions help visual cortex to realize: (i) the binding process whereby cortex groups distributed data into coherent object representations; (ii) the attentional process whereby cortex selectively processes important events; and (iii) the developmental and learning processes whereby cortex shapes its circuits to match environmental constraints. New computational ideas about feedback systems suggest how neocortex develops and learns in a stable way, and why top-down attention requires converging bottom-up inputs to fully activate cortical cells, whereas perceptual groupings do not.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems and Center for Adaptive Systems, Boston University, 677 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02215, USA


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