Stable Perception in the Adult Brain

Lead image: Active neurons of the visual mouse cortex at changed sensory stimuli…Credit: © MPI f. Neurobiology/ T. Rose
Neurons return to their original state after a change.

By Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology | NAUTILUS

The adult brain has learned to calculate an image of its environment from sensory information. If the input signals change, however, even the adult brain is able to adapt − and, ideally, to return to its original activity patterns once the perturbation has ceased. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried have now shown in mice that this ability is due to the properties of individual neurons. Their findings demonstrate that individual cells adjust strongly to changes in the environment but after the environment returns to its original state it is again the individual neurons which reassume their initial response properties. This could explain why despite substantial plasticity the perception in the adult brain is rather stable and why the brain does not have to continuously relearn everything.

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