Citation: Cerebral Cortex, 11, 37-58.
Abstract: A neural model suggests how horizontal and interlaminar connections in visual cortical areas V1 and V2 develop within a laminar cortical architecture and give rise to adult visual percepts. The model suggests how mechanisms that control cortical development in the infant lead to properties of adult cortical anatomy, neurophysiology and visual perception. The model clarifies how excitatory and inhibitory connections can develop stably by maintaining a balance between excitation and inhibition. The growth of long-range excitatory horizontal connections between layer 2/3 pyramidal cells is balanced against that of short-range disynaptic interneuronal connections. The growth of excitatory on-center connections from layer 6-to-4 is balanced against that of inhibitory interneuronal off-surround connections. These balanced connections interact via intracortical and intercortical feedback to realize properties of perceptual grouping, attention and perceptual learning in the adult, and help to explain the observed variability in the number and temporal distributioin of spikes emitted by cortical neurons. The model replicates cortical point spread functions and psychophysical data on the strength of real and illusory contours. The on-center, off-sourround layer 6-to-4 circuit enables top-down attentional signals from area V2 to modulate, or attentionally prime, layer 4 cells in area V1 without fully activating them. This modulatory circuit also enables adult perceptual learning within cortical area V1 and V2 to proceed in a stable way.