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JST Press Release

July 14, 2015
Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)
5-3, Yonbancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8666

Learning Enhances Top-down Processing of Vision

From the smell of flowers to the taste of wine, our perception is strongly influenced by prior knowledge and expectations (so called top-down control) developed through learning. How is this learning-related change in perception mediated by brain circuits? This study reveals how the mouse brain changes its operation modes to implement these top-down processes during learning. We found that when the mouse assigns a new meaning to a previously neutral visual stimulus, top-down control becomes much more influential to activate the visual cortex. Top-down inputs interact with specific neuron types in the visual cortex to modulate its operation modes. In addition to revealing circuit mechanisms underlying these learning-related changes, our findings may have implications in understanding the pathophysiology of psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia that generates abnormal perception.

Researcher Information

Research Area “Development and Function of Neural Networks”
Research Theme “Learning-related plasticity of cortical microcircuits”

Journal Information

Makino, H. and Komiyama, T. “Learning enhances the relative impact of top-down processing in the visual cortex”. Nature Neuroscience, Published online 13 July 2015, doi:10.1038/nn.4061.


[About Research]
Hiroshi Makino, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral fellow, Neurobiology Section and Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego

Takaki Komiyama, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Neurobiology Section and Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego
URL: http://labs.biology.ucsd.edu/komiyama/

[About Program]
Koji Matsuo, Tetsu Kawaguchi, and Raijo Yakuwa
Life Innovation Group, Department of Innovation Research, JST


JST, an integrated organization of science and technology in Japan, establishes an infrastructure for the entire process from the creation of knowledge to the return to the society. For more information, visit http://www.jst.go.jp/EN/