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Sensory neuroscience

– Typical experiments – Sensory neuroscience explores anatomy and physiology of neurons in sensory systems like vision, hearing, and olfaction. – Neurons in sensory brain […]

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– Typical experiments
– Sensory neuroscience explores anatomy and physiology of neurons in sensory systems like vision, hearing, and olfaction.
– Neurons in sensory brain regions respond to stimuli by firing nerve impulses.
– Neural code, encoding outside world information, is a focus.
– Studying early sensory processing is advantageous.
– Understanding sensory systems aids in understanding brain function.

– Single neuron experiments
– Neurons communicate by sending action potentials.
– Experimental techniques cannot measure individual spikes noninvasively.
– Single neuron experiments involve isolating neurons and presenting stimuli.
– Neural responses are variable, and stimulus protocols are repeated.
– Analysis techniques include post-stimulus time histograms.

– Receptive field estimation
– Estimating neurons’ receptive fields is a major goal.
– Linear regression helps find stimuli that excite or depress neurons.
– Receptive fields can vary in time and spatial dimensions.
– Spatio-temporal receptive field (STRF) describes these fields.
– Techniques like natural stimuli and linear regression are used.

– Natural stimuli
– Recent trend in using natural stimuli in sensory neuroscience.
– Evolutionary pressure leads sensory systems to represent natural stimuli well.
– Mathematical descriptions of natural stimuli are more complex.
– Free software helps neuroscientists estimate receptive fields with natural stimuli.
– Sensory neuroscience is used to study consciousness.

– See also
– Efficient coding hypothesis.
– Multisensory integration.

Sensory neuroscience (Wikipedia)

Sensory neuroscience is a subfield of neuroscience which explores the anatomy and physiology of neurons that are part of sensory systems such as vision, hearing, and olfaction. Neurons in sensory regions of the brain respond to stimuli by firing one or more nerve impulses (action potentials) following stimulus presentation. How is information about the outside world encoded by the rate, timing, and pattern of action potentials? This so-called neural code is currently poorly understood and sensory neuroscience plays an important role in the attempt to decipher it. Looking at early sensory processing is advantageous since brain regions that are "higher up" (e.g. those involved in memory or emotion) contain neurons which encode more abstract representations. However, the hope is that there are unifying principles which govern how the brain encodes and processes information. Studying sensory systems is an important stepping stone in our understanding of brain function in general.

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