Running as fast as it can: how spiking dynamics form object groupings in the laminar circuits of visual cortex

J Comput Neurosci. 2010 Apr;28(2):323-46. doi: 10.1007/s10827-009-0211-1. Epub 2010 Jan 29.


How spiking neurons cooperate to control behavioral processes is a fundamental problem in computational neuroscience. Such cooperative dynamics are required during visual perception when spatially distributed image fragments are grouped into emergent boundary contours. Perceptual grouping is a challenge for spiking cells because its properties of collinear facilitation and analog sensitivity occur in response to binary spikes with irregular timing across many interacting cells. Some models have demonstrated spiking dynamics in recurrent laminar neocortical circuits, but not how perceptual grouping occurs. Other models have analyzed the fast speed of certain percepts in terms of a single feedforward sweep of activity, but cannot explain other percepts, such as illusory contours, wherein perceptual ambiguity can take hundreds of milliseconds to resolve by integrating multiple spikes over time. The current model reconciles fast feedforward with slower feedback processing, and binary spikes with analog network-level properties, in a laminar cortical network of spiking cells whose emergent properties quantitatively simulate parametric data from neurophysiological experiments, including the formation of illusory contours; the structure of non-classical visual receptive fields; and self-synchronizing gamma oscillations. These laminar dynamics shed new light on how the brain resolves local informational ambiguities through the use of properly designed nonlinear feedback spiking networks which run as fast as they can, given the amount of uncertainty in the data that they process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Form Perception / physiology
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Optical Illusions / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology