Apr 5, 2020

Correlations enhance the behavioral readout of neural population activity in association cortex

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
M. ValenteStefano Panzeri


The spatiotemporal structure of activity in populations of neurons is critical for accurate perception and behavior. Experimental and theoretical studies have focused on noise correlations (trial-to-trial covariations in neural activity for a given stimulus) as a key feature of population activity structure. Much work has shown that these correlations limit the stimulus information encoded by a population of neurons, leading to the widely held prediction that correlations are detrimental for perceptual discrimination behaviors. However, this prediction relies on an untested assumption: that the neural mechanisms that read out sensory information to inform behavior depend only on the population total stimulus information independently of how correlations constrain this information across neurons or time. Here we make the critical advance of simultaneously studying how correlations affect both the encoding and the readout of sensory information. We analyzed calcium imaging data from mouse posterior parietal cortex during two perceptual discrimination tasks. Correlations limited the ability to encode stimulus information, but (seemingly paradoxically) correlations were higher when mice made correct choices than when they made erro...Continue Reading

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