Inferring cortical function in the mouse visual system through large-scale systems neuroscience

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Jul 5;113(27):7337-44. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1512901113.


The scientific mission of the Project MindScope is to understand neocortex, the part of the mammalian brain that gives rise to perception, memory, intelligence, and consciousness. We seek to quantitatively evaluate the hypothesis that neocortex is a relatively homogeneous tissue, with smaller functional modules that perform a common computational function replicated across regions. We here focus on the mouse as a mammalian model organism with genetics, physiology, and behavior that can be readily studied and manipulated in the laboratory. We seek to describe the operation of cortical circuitry at the computational level by comprehensively cataloging and characterizing its cellular building blocks along with their dynamics and their cell type-specific connectivities. The project is also building large-scale experimental platforms (i.e., brain observatories) to record the activity of large populations of cortical neurons in behaving mice subject to visual stimuli. A primary goal is to understand the series of operations from visual input in the retina to behavior by observing and modeling the physical transformations of signals in the corticothalamic system. We here focus on the contribution that computer modeling and theory make to this long-term effort.

Keywords: computation; neocortex; neural coding; simulation; visual system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurosciences / methods*
  • Systems Analysis
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*