Reduced neural activity but improved coding in rodent higher-order visual cortex during locomotion

Amelia J. Christensen & Jonathan W. Pillow
Nature Communications 13 (1): 1676 (2022).

Running profoundly alters stimulus-response properties in mouse primary visual cortex (V1), but its effect in higher-order visual cortex is under-explored. Here we systematically investigate how visual responses vary with locomotive state across six visual areas and three cortical layers using a massive dataset from the Allen Brain Institute. Although previous work has shown running speed to be positively correlated with neural activity in V1, here we show that the sign of correlations between speed and neural activity varies across extra-striate cortex, and is even negative in anterior extra-striate cortex. Nevertheless, across all visual cortices, neural responses can be decoded more accurately during running than during stationary periods. We show that this effect is not attributable to changes in population activity structure, and propose that it instead arises from an increase in reliability of single-neuron responses during locomotion.

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