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Figure-ground perception in the awake mouse and neuronal activity elicited by figure-ground stimuli in primary visual cortex

Research group Roelfsema
Publication year 2018
Published in Scientific Reports
Authors Ulf H Schnabel, Christophe Bossens, J.A.M. Lorteije, M.W. Self, Hans P Op de Beeck, P.R. Roelfsema

Figure-ground segregation is the process by which the visual system identifies image elements of figures and segregates them from the background. Previous studies examined figure-ground segregation in the visual cortex of monkeys where figures elicit stronger neuronal responses than backgrounds. It was demonstrated in anesthetized mice that neurons in the primary visual cortex (V1) of mice are sensitive to orientation contrast, but it is unknown whether mice can perceptually segregate figures from a background. Here, we examined figure-ground perception of mice and found that mice can detect figures defined by an orientation that differs from the background while the figure size, position or phase varied. Electrophysiological recordings in V1 of awake mice revealed that the responses elicited by figures were stronger than those elicited by the background and even stronger at the edge between figure and background. A figural response could even be evoked in the absence of a stimulus in the V1 receptive field. Current-source-density analysis suggested that the extra activity was caused by synaptic inputs into layer 2/3. We conclude that the neuronal mechanisms of figure-ground segregation in mice are similar to those in primates, enabling investigation with the powerful techniques for circuit analysis now available in mice.

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