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Hierarchical and distributed processing in the mouse visual cortical network

The mammalian visual system, from retina to neocortex, has been extensively studied at both anatomical and functional levels. Anatomy indicates the cortical visual system is hierarchical, but direct characterization of cellular-level functional interactions across multiple levels of this hierarchy is lacking. Moreover, amid the feedforward hierarchy, there is immense lateral, recurrent, and feedback projections between cortical areas. Given the complexity and density of inter-area connectivity it is currently unclear how cross-area projections are utilized at the level of single neurons to propagate signals across the cortical network. I will describe a large, open dataset (part of the Allen Brain Observatory) in which we use multiple Neuropixels probes to simultaneously monitor the spiking hundreds of neurons across six areas of the mouse visual cortex. By analyzing neuron-to-neuron functional interactions, visual response properties, and behavioral modulation, I will describe evidence for both hierarchical and distributed processing in this network.