How Does the Cerebral Cortex Work? Developement, Learning, Attention, and 3D Vision by Laminar Circuits of Visual Cortex
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A key goal of behavioral and cognitive neuroscience is to link brain mechanisms to behavioral functions. The present article describes recent progress towards explaining how the visual cortex sees. Visual cortex, like many parts of perceptual and cognitive neocortex, is organized into six main layers of cells, as well as characteristic sub-lamina. Here it is proposed how these layered circuits help to realize the processes of developement, learning, perceptual grouping, attention, and 3D vision through a combination of bottom-up, horizontal, and top-down interactions. A key theme is that the mechanisms which enable developement and learning to occur in a stable way imply properties of adult behavior. These results thus begin to unify three fields: infant cortical developement, adult cortical neurophysiology and anatomy, and adult visual perception. The identified cortical mechanisms promise to generalize to explain how other perceptual and cognitive processes work.