Diversity of spatiotemporal coding reveals specialized visual processing streams in the mouse cortex

Nature Communications volume 13, Article number: 3249, 2022

Abstract

The cerebral cortex contains diverse neural representations of the visual scene, each enabling distinct visual and spatial abilities. However, the extent to which representations are distributed or segregated across cortical areas remains poorly understood. By determining the spatial and temporal responses of >30,000 layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons, we characterize the functional organization of parallel visual streams across eight areas of the mouse cortex. While dorsal and ventral areas form complementary representations of spatiotemporal frequency, motion speed, and spatial patterns, the anterior and posterior dorsal areas show distinct specializations for fast and slow oriented contrasts. At the cellular level, while diverse spatiotemporal tuning lies along a continuum, oriented and non-oriented spatial patterns are encoded by distinct tuning types. The identified tuning types are present across dorsal and ventral streams. The data underscore the highly specific and highly distributed nature of visual cortical representations, which drives specialization of cortical areas and streams.

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