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Task specificity in mouse parietal cortex

By Julie J Lee, Michael Krumin, Kenneth D Harris, Matteo Carandini

Posted 21 Dec 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.12.18.423543

Parietal cortex is implicated in a variety of behavioral processes, but it is unknown whether and how individual neurons participate in multiple tasks. We trained head-fixed mice to perform two visual decision tasks involving a steering wheel or a virtual T-maze, and recorded from the same parietal neurons during the two. Neurons that were active during the T-maze task were typically inactive during the steering-wheel task, and vice versa. Recording from the same neurons in the same apparatus without task stimuli yielded the same specificity as in the task, suggesting that task specificity depends on physical context. To confirm this, we trained some mice in a third task combining the steering wheel with the visual environment of the T-maze. This hybrid task engaged the same neurons as the steering-wheel task. Thus, participation by neurons in mouse parietal cortex is task-specific, and this specificity is determined by physical context.

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