Integrating top-down and bottom-up sensory processing by somato-dendritic interactions

J Comput Neurosci. 2000 Mar-Apr;8(2):161-73. doi: 10.1023/a:1008973215925.


The classical view of cortical information processing is that of a bottom-up process in a feedforward hierarchy. However, psychophysical, anatomical, and physiological evidence suggests that top-down effects play a crucial role in the processing of input stimuli. Not much is known about the neural mechanisms underlying these effects. Here we investigate a physiologically inspired model of two reciprocally connected cortical areas. Each area receives bottom-up as well as top-down information. This information is integrated by a mechanism that exploits recent findings on somato-dendritic interactions. (1) This results in a burst signal that is robust in the context of noise in bottom-up signals. (2) Investigating the influence of additional top-down information, priming-like effects on the processing of bottom-up input can be demonstrated. (3) In accordance with recent physiological findings, interareal coupling in low-frequency ranges is characteristically enhanced by top-down mechanisms. The proposed scheme combines a qualitative influence of top-down directed signals on the temporal dynamics of neuronal activity with a limited effect on the mean firing rate of the targeted neurons. As it gives an account of the system properties on the cellular level, it is possible to derive several experimentally testable predictions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Information Theory
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Time Factors