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Experience-Dependent and Brain State-Dependent Processing
in the Visual Cortex

Haishan Yao

Institute of Neuroscience
Chinese Academy of Sciences


Sensory processing is influenced by both the experience and the brain state of the animal. We use in vivo whole-cell recordings and extracellular recordings in primary visual cortex (V1) to examine how receptive field (RF) property is dynamically modified by external visual stimulation and internal brain state. We found that repetitive stimulation of natural movies could increase the similarity between cortical RF structure and the subset of movie images that depolarized the cell. This effect depended on the spatiotemporal correlation of the conditioning movie and required the activation of NMDA receptors. Such dynamic RF modification may play an important role in dynamic coding of natural scenes. To study how brain state influences visual processing, we examined the response latency of V1 neurons in both awake and anesthetized rats. We found that V1 neurons exhibited shorter response latency in the desynchronized state than in the synchronized state. In vivo whole-cell recording showed that both the resting and the evoked conductances were higher in the desynchronized state. We further showed that the latency advance in V1 could be accounted for by a cascade mechanism, which incorporates the latency advance in LGN and an increasing latency advance across successive V1 layers caused by the conductance increase.  

Short Bio

Dr. Haishan Yao graduated from Wuhan University in 1994 and received her Ph.D. from the Shanghai Institute of Physiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1999. She did her postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley during 2000-2005. She joined the Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences as an Investigator and Head of the Laboratory of Visual Neurophysiology in November 2005. Her major research interest is the neural mechanism of visual processing and the plasticity of the visual system. The lab studies how the early visual system processes information in complex visual scenes, how the visual circuits adapt to different patterns of visual stimulation, and how brain state or behavioral state influences visual processing.

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Last updated: January 19, 2013