How Cortical Circuits Implement Cortical Computations: Mouse Visual Cortex as a Model

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2021 Jul 8;44:517-546. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-102320-085825. Epub 2021 Apr 29.


The mouse, as a model organism to study the brain, gives us unprecedented experimental access to the mammalian cerebral cortex. By determining the cortex's cellular composition, revealing the interaction between its different components, and systematically perturbing these components, we are obtaining mechanistic insight into some of the most basic properties of cortical function. In this review, we describe recent advances in our understanding of how circuits of cortical neurons implement computations, as revealed by the study of mouse primary visual cortex. Further, we discuss how studying the mouse has broadened our understanding of the range of computations performed by visual cortex. Finally, we address how future approaches will fulfill the promise of the mouse in elucidating fundamental operations of cortex.

Keywords: behavioral state; contextual modulation; direction selectivity; orientation selectivity; perception; receptive field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Neurons
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Cortex*