How does the Cerebral Cortex Work? Learning, Attention, and Grouping by the Laminar Circuits of Visual Cortex
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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 co1tex to realize: (I) the binding process whereby cortex groups distributed data into coherent object representations; (2) the attentional process whereby cortex selectively processes important events; and (3) 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.