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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2015 Jun;32:45-52. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2014.10.013. Epub 2014 Nov 17.

Belief states as a framework to explain extra-retinal influences in visual cortex.

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Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, University of Tuebingen, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany. Electronic address:
Department of Vision and Cognition, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, an Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Meibergdreef 47, 1105 BA Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Department of Integrative Neurophysiology, Centre for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Psychiatry Department, Academic Medical Center, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address:


The activity of sensory neurons is modulated by non-sensory influences, but the role of these influences in cognition is only partially understood. Here we review how the large-scale recording of neuronal activity within and across brain regions allows researchers to examine the interactions between simultaneously recorded neurons as they are jointly influenced by fluctuations in an animal's mental state. We focus on studies on the visual cortex of non-human primates to examine the relationship between extra-retinal influences and beliefs about the state of the sensory world. We explore how these influences can be understood within theoretical frameworks that propose how the continuous updating of belief states supports perceptual inference.

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