Task-Dependent Changes in the Large-Scale Dynamics and Necessity of Cortical Regions

  • Authors: Lucas Pinto, Kanaka Rajan, Brian DePasquale, Stephan Y. Thiberge, David W. Tank, Carlos D. Brody

PUBLICATION: Neuron, 2019

Neural activity throughout the cortex is correlated with perceptual decisions, but inactivation studies suggest that only a small number of areas are necessary for these behaviors. Here we show that the number of required cortical areas and their dynamics vary across related tasks with different cognitive computations. In a visually guided virtual T-maze task, bilateral inactivation of only a few dorsal cortical regions impaired performance. In contrast, in tasks requiring evidence accumulation and/or post-stimulus memory, performance was impaired by inactivation of widespread cortical areas with diverse patterns of behavioral deficits across areas and tasks. Wide-field imaging revealed widespread ramps of Ca2+ activity during the accumulation and visually guided tasks. Additionally, during accumulation, different regions had more diverse activity profiles, leading to reduced inter-area correlations. Using a modular recurrent neural network model trained to perform analogous tasks, we argue that differences in computational strategies alone could explain these findings.

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Brigitte Stark