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Article

Contextual Modulation in Mammalian Neocortex is Asymmetric

1
Department of Statistics, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
2
Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Symmetry 2020, 12(5), 815; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym12050815
Received: 13 April 2020 / Revised: 10 May 2020 / Accepted: 12 May 2020 / Published: 14 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Asymmetries in Biological Phenomena)
Neural systems are composed of many local processors that generate an output given their many inputs as specified by a transfer function. This paper studies a transfer function that is fundamentally asymmetric and builds on multi-site intracellular recordings indicating that some neocortical pyramidal cells can function as context-sensitive two-point processors in which some inputs modulate the strength with which they transmit information about other inputs. Learning and processing at the level of the local processor can then be guided by the context of activity in the system as a whole without corrupting the message that the local processor transmits. We use a recent advance in the foundations of information theory to compare the properties of this modulatory transfer function with that of the simple arithmetic operators. This advance enables the information transmitted by processors with two distinct inputs to be decomposed into those components unique to each input, that shared between the two inputs, and that which depends on both though it is in neither, i.e., synergy. We show that contextual modulation is fundamentally asymmetric, contrasts with all four simple arithmetic operators, can take various forms, and can occur together with the anatomical asymmetry that defines pyramidal neurons in mammalian neocortex. View Full-Text
Keywords: asymmetry; multivariate mutual information; information decomposition; contextual modulation; synergy; neural systems asymmetry; multivariate mutual information; information decomposition; contextual modulation; synergy; neural systems
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kay, J.W.; Phillips, W.A. Contextual Modulation in Mammalian Neocortex is Asymmetric. Symmetry 2020, 12, 815. https://doi.org/10.3390/sym12050815

AMA Style

Kay JW, Phillips WA. Contextual Modulation in Mammalian Neocortex is Asymmetric. Symmetry. 2020; 12(5):815. https://doi.org/10.3390/sym12050815

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kay, Jim W., and William A. Phillips 2020. "Contextual Modulation in Mammalian Neocortex is Asymmetric" Symmetry 12, no. 5: 815. https://doi.org/10.3390/sym12050815

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