Magnitude, time course, and specificity of rapid adaptation across mouse visual areas.
Adaptation is a ubiquitous feature of sensory processing whereby recent experience shapes future responses. The mouse primary visual cortex (V1) is particularly sensitive to recent experience, where a brief stimulus can suppress subsequent responses for seconds. This rapid adaptation profoundly impacts perception, suggesting that its effects are propagated along the visual hierarchy. To understand how rapid adaptation influences sensory processing, we measured its effects at key nodes in the visual system: in V1, three higher visual areas (HVAs: lateromedial, anterolateral, and posteromedial), and the superior colliculus (SC) in awake mice of both sexes using single-unit recordings. Consistent with the feed-forward propagation of adaptation along the visual hierarchy, we find that neurons in layer 4 adapt less strongly than those in other layers of V1. Furthermore, neurons in the HVAs adapt more strongly, and recover more slowly, than those in V1. The magnitude and time course of adaptation was comparable in each of the HVAs and in the SC, suggesting that adaptation may not linearly accumulate along the feed-forward visual processing hierarchy. Despite the increase in adaptation in the HVAs compared with V1, the effects were similarly orientation specific across all areas. These data reveal that adaptation profoundly shapes cortical processing, with increasing impact at higher levels in the cortical hierarchy, and also strongly influencing computations in the SC. Thus, we find robust, brain-wide effects of rapid adaptation on sensory processing.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Rapid adaptation dynamically alters sensory signals to account for recent experience. To understand how adaptation affects sensory processing and perception, we must determine how it impacts the diverse set of cortical and subcortical areas along the hierarchy of the mouse visual system. We find that rapid adaptation strongly impacts neurons in primary visual cortex, the higher visual areas, and the colliculus, consistent with its profound effects on behavior.
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