A large-scale standardized physiological survey reveals functional organization of the mouse visual cortex

Nat Neurosci. 2020 Jan;23(1):138-151. doi: 10.1038/s41593-019-0550-9. Epub 2019 Dec 16.


To understand how the brain processes sensory information to guide behavior, we must know how stimulus representations are transformed throughout the visual cortex. Here we report an open, large-scale physiological survey of activity in the awake mouse visual cortex: the Allen Brain Observatory Visual Coding dataset. This publicly available dataset includes the cortical activity of nearly 60,000 neurons from six visual areas, four layers, and 12 transgenic mouse lines in a total of 243 adult mice, in response to a systematic set of visual stimuli. We classify neurons on the basis of joint reliabilities to multiple stimuli and validate this functional classification with models of visual responses. While most classes are characterized by responses to specific subsets of the stimuli, the largest class is not reliably responsive to any of the stimuli and becomes progressively larger in higher visual areas. These classes reveal a functional organization wherein putative dorsal areas show specialization for visual motion signals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Datasets as Topic
  • Mice
  • Visual Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*