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Large-scale two-photon imaging revealed super-sparse population codes in V1 superficial layer of awake monkeys

By Shiming Tang, Yimeng Zhang, Zhihao Li, Ming Li, Fang Liu, Hongfei Jiang, Tai Sing Lee

Posted 25 Jan 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/252940 (published DOI: 10.7554/elife.33370)

Efficient coding has been proposed as a general principle for sensory systems. The efficient coding hypothesis predicts that neuronal population responses should be sparse, but limited by the measurement techniques, the precise estimates of the population sparseness of visual cortical neurons are still uncertain. Here, we employed large-scale two-photon calcium imaging to examine the neuronal population activities in V1 superficial layers of awake macaques in response to a large set of natural images. We found that only 0.5% of these neurons on average responded strongly to any given natural image with response strength above half of their individual peak responses, which is more than tenfold sparse over those reported by early studies. We further showed that these sparse population activities contain sufficient information for discriminating images with high accuracy. This study provided the first accurate measure of sparseness in V1 neuronal population responses, which support super-sparse neural codes in primates.

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