The Laminar Organization of Visual Cortex: A Unified View of Development, Learning, and Grouping
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Why are all sensory and cognitive neocortex organized into layered circuits? How do these layers organize circuits that form functional columns in cortical maps? How do bottom-up, top-down, and horizontal interactions within the cortical layers generate adaptive behaviors. This chapter summarizes an evolving neural model which suggests how these interactions help the visual cortex to realize: (1) 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. It is suggested that the mechanisms which achieve property (3) imply properties of (I) and (2). 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.