Prof. Si Wu’s group published a research article on eLife. Starting from the first principle of information processing, this article investigated how the cortical neuronal circuit can achieve efficient multisensory integration and segregation.
Our brain perceives the world by exploiting multisensory cues to extract information about various aspects of external stimuli. The sensory cues from the same stimulus should be integrated to improve perception, and otherwise segregated to distinguish different stimuli. In reality, however, the brain faces the challenge of recognizing stimuli without knowing in advance the sources of sensory cues. To address this challenge, this study proposes that the brain conducts integration and segregation concurrently with complementary neurons. Studying the inference of heading-direction via visual and vestibular cues, the authors develop a network model with two reciprocally connected modules modeling interacting visual-vestibular areas. In each module, there are two groups of neurons whose tunings under each sensory cue are either congruent or opposite. The study shows that congruent neurons implement integration, while opposite neurons compute cue disparity information for segregation, and the interplay between two groups of neurons achieves efficient multisensory information processing.
Prof. Si Wu and Prof. K.Y. Michael Wong are the co-corresponding authors of this article. Prof. K.Y. Michael Wong is working at the Department of Physics, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The first author, Dr. Wenhao Zhang was a phd student in Prof. Si Wu’s lab, and he is working as a postdoc in the Department of Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh, United States. The co-authors of this work also include Dr. He Wang from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Prof. Aihua Chen from East China Normal University, P.I. Yong Gu from the Institute of Neuroscience Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Prof. Tai-Sing Lee at Carnegie Mellon University, United States.