Mouse visual cortex areas represent perceptual and semantic features of learned visual categories
Associative memories are stored in distributed networks extending across multiple brain regions. However, it is unclear to what extent sensory cortical areas are part of these networks. Using a paradigm for visual category learning in mice, we investigated whether perceptual and semantic features of learned category associations are already represented at the first stages of visual information processing in the neocortex. Mice learned categorizing visual stimuli, discriminating between categories and generalizing within categories. Inactivation experiments showed that categorization performance was contingent on neuronal activity in the visual cortex. Long-term calcium imaging in nine areas of the visual cortex identified changes in feature tuning and category tuning that occurred during this learning process, most prominently in the postrhinal area (POR). These results provide evidence for the view that associative memories form a brain-wide distributed network, with learning in early stages shaping perceptual representations and supporting semantic content downstream.
Goltstein, P. M., Reinert, S., Bonhoeffer, T., & Hübener, M. (2021). Mouse visual cortex areas represent perceptual and semantic features of learned visual categories. Nature neuroscience, 24(10), 1441-1451.