The brain has evolved to transform sensory information in the environment into neural representations that can be used for perception and action. Higher-order sensory cortical areas, with their increasingly complex receptive fields and integrative properties, are thought to be critical nodes for this function. This is especially true in the primate visual cortex, in which functionally specialized areas are engaged in parallel streams to support diverse computations. Recent anatomical and physiological studies of the mouse visual cortex have revealed a similarly complex network of specialized higher-order areas. This structure provides a useful model for determining the synaptic and circuit mechanisms through which information is transformed across distinct processing stages. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the layout, connectivity, and functional properties of the higher visual areas in the mouse. In addition, we speculate on the contribution of these areas to perception and action, and how knowledge of the mouse visual system can inform us about the principles that govern information processing in integrated networks.
Keywords: connectivity; functional specialization; hierarchical and parallel processing; higher visual area; mouse; visual cortex.