Past knowledge Affect What We See

  • Posted on: 21 July 2015
  • By: Shalini.Sharma

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Prior knowledge impacts how the brain processes what we see, says a new study. From the smell of flowers to the taste of wine, our perception is strongly influenced by prior knowledge and expectations, a cognitive process known as 'top-down control'.  The study appears online in Nature Neuroscience.

The new study in mouse models found that the brain significantly changed its visual cortex operation modes by implementing top-down processes during learning.

First author Hiroshi Makino, postdoctoral researcher at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, said, "We found that when the mouse assigns a new meaning to a previously neutral visual stimulus, top-down control becomes much more influential in activating the visual cortex. Top-down inputs interact with specific neuron types in the visual cortex to modulate its operation modes."

Makino further added, "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 generate abnormal perception."

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