Functional Localization of an Attenuating Filter within Cortex for a Selective Detection Task in Mice
An essential feature of goal-directed behavior is the ability to selectively respond to the diverse stimuli in one's environment. However, the neural mechanisms that enable us to respond to target stimuli while ignoring distractor stimuli are poorly understood. To study this sensory selection process, we trained male and female mice in a selective detection task in which mice learn to respond to rapid stimuli in the target whisker field and ignore identical stimuli in the opposite, distractor
... osite, distractor whisker field. In expert mice, we used widefield Ca2+ imaging to analyze target-related and distractor-related neural responses throughout dorsal cortex. For target stimuli, we observed strong signal activation in primary somatosensory cortex (S1) and frontal cortices, including both the whisker representation of primary motor cortex (wMC) and anterior lateral motor cortex (ALM). For distractor stimuli, we observe strong signal activation in S1, with minimal propagation to frontal cortex. Our data support only modest subcortical filtering, with robust, step-like attenuation in distractor processing between mono-synaptically coupled regions of S1 and wMC. This study establishes a highly robust model system for studying the neural mechanisms of sensory selection and places important constraints on its implementation.