Neural representations of the external world are built from patterns of sensory input. In the cortex, these representations can be surprisingly dynamic, shifting over time and across learning. We investigated this reorganization using volumetric two-photon imaging of primary somatosensory cortex in mice learning to discriminate simple shapes with their whiskers. I will present how the representations of shape are distributed across cortical layers, how they are assembled from sensory input features, and how training increases the importance of task-relevant sensory features, specifically enhancing discrimination of trained examples. These results suggest mechanisms by which cortical reorganization allows flexible improvement in task performance while maintaining perceptual stability.
The Hires lab uses precise behavioral tracking, high-throughput neural recording, optogenetic tools, and computational approaches to understand how internal representations of the external world are constructed from active sensory input. This presentation will cover forthcoming results on how object position and shape are encoded in primary somatosensory cortex of mouse, and how these cortical representations are reorganized during tactile discrimination learning. This work is supported by a 2017 NIH New Innovator award and R01 from NINDS. Prior to his 2014 appointment in the Neurobiology section of Biological Sciences at USC, Prof. Hires’s received a S.B. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT, Ph.D. from UCSD under the supervision of Roger Tsien, and postdoctoral training under Loren Looger and Karel Svoboda at Janelia Research Campus.