A Neural Model of How Horizontal and Interlaminar Connections of Visual Cortex Develop into Adult Circuits that Carry Out Perceptual Grouping and Learning
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A neural model suggests how horizontal and interlaminar connections in visual cortical areas Vl and V2 develop within a laminar cortical architecture and give rise to adult visual percepts. The model suggests how mechanisms that control cortical development in the infant lead to properties of adult cortical anatomy, neurophysiology, and visual perception. The model clarifies how excitatory and inhibitory connections can develop stably by maintaining a balance between excitation and inhibition. The growth of long-range excitatory horizontal connections between layer 2/3 pyramidal cells is balanced against that of short-range disynaptic interneuronal connections. The growth of excitatory on-center connections from layer 6-to-4 is balanced against that of inhibitory interneuronal off-surround connections. These balanced connections interact via intracortical and intercortical feedback to realize properties of perceptual grouping, attention, and perceptual learning in the adult, and help to explain the observed variability in the number and temporal distribution of spikes emitted by cortical neurons. The model replicates cortical point spread functions and psychophysical data on the strength of real and illusory contours. The on-center off-surround layer 6-to-4 circuit enables top-clown attentional signals from area V2 to modulate, or attentionally prime, layer 4 cells in area Vl without fully activating them. This modulatory circuit also enables adult perceptual learning within cortical area Vl and V2 to proceed in a stable way.