The ability to categorize stimuli into discrete behaviourally relevant groups is an essential cognitive function. To elucidate the neural mechanisms underlying categorization, we constructed a cortical circuit model that is capable of learning a motion categorization task through reward-dependent plasticity. Here we show that stable category representations develop in neurons intermediate to sensory and decision layers if they exhibit choice-correlated activity fluctuations (choice probability). In the model, choice probability and task-specific interneuronal correlations emerge from plasticity of top-down projections from decision neurons. Specific model predictions are confirmed by analysis of single-neuron activity from the monkey parietal cortex, which reveals a mixture of directional and categorical tuning, and a positive correlation between category selectivity and choice probability. Beyond demonstrating a circuit mechanism for categorization, the present work suggests a key role of plastic top-down feedback in simultaneously shaping both neural tuning and correlated neural variability.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)