Primary visual cortex straightens natural video trajectories

Olivier J. Hénaff, Yoon Bai, Julie A. Charlton, Ian Nauhaus, Eero P. Simoncelli, Robbe L.T. Goris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many sensory-driven behaviors rely on predictions about future states of the environment. Visual input typically evolves along complex temporal trajectories that are difficult to extrapolate. We test the hypothesis that spatial processing mechanisms in the early visual system facilitate prediction by constructing neural representations that follow straighter temporal trajectories. We recorded V1 population activity in anesthetized macaques while presenting static frames taken from brief video clips, and developed a procedure to measure the curvature of the associated neural population trajectory. We found that V1 populations straighten naturally occurring image sequences, but entangle artificial sequences that contain unnatural temporal transformations. We show that these effects arise in part from computational mechanisms that underlie the stimulus selectivity of V1 cells. Together, our findings reveal that the early visual system uses a set of specialized computations to build representations that can support prediction in the natural environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5982
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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