Laminar processing of numerosity supports a canonical cortical microcircuit in human parietal cortex

Jelle A van Dijk, Alessio Fracasso, Natalia Petridou, Serge O Dumoulin

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As neural signals travel through the visual hierarchy, spatial precision decreases and specificity for stimulus features increases.1-4 A similar hierarchy has been found for laminar processing in V1, where information from the thalamus predominantly targets the central layers, while spatial precision decreases and feature specificity increases toward superficial and deeper layers.5-17 This laminar processing scheme is proposed to represent a canonical cortical microcircuit that is similar across the cortex.11,18-21 Here, we go beyond early visual cortex and investigate whether processing of numerosity (the set size of a group of items) across cortical depth in the parietal association cortex follows this hypothesis. Numerosity processing is implicated in many tasks such as multiple object tracking,22 mathematics,23-25 decision making,26 and dividing attention.27 Neurons in the parietal association cortex are tuned to numerosity, with both a preferred numerosity tuning and tuning width (i.e., specificity).28-30 We quantified preferred numerosity responses across cortical depth in the parietal association cortex with ultra-high field fMRI and population receptive field-based numerosity modeling.1,28,31 We find that numerosity responses sharpen, i.e., become increasingly specific, moving away from the central layers. This suggests that the laminar processing scheme for numerosity processing in the parietal cortex is similar to primary visual cortex, providing support for the canonical cortical microcircuit hypothesis beyond primary visual cortex.

Originele taal-2Engels
TijdschriftCurrent Biology
DOI's
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 16 aug 2021

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