Sensory noise predicts divisive reshaping of receptive fields Journal Article

Author(s): Chalk, Matthew; Masset, Paul; Gutkin, Boris S; Denève, Sophie
Article Title: Sensory noise predicts divisive reshaping of receptive fields
Affiliation IST Austria
Abstract: In order to respond reliably to specific features of their environment, sensory neurons need to integrate multiple incoming noisy signals. Crucially, they also need to compete for the interpretation of those signals with other neurons representing similar features. The form that this competition should take depends critically on the noise corrupting these signals. In this study we show that for the type of noise commonly observed in sensory systems, whose variance scales with the mean signal, sensory neurons should selectively divide their input signals by their predictions, suppressing ambiguous cues while amplifying others. Any change in the stimulus context alters which inputs are suppressed, leading to a deep dynamic reshaping of neural receptive fields going far beyond simple surround suppression. Paradoxically, these highly variable receptive fields go alongside and are in fact required for an invariant representation of external sensory features. In addition to offering a normative account of context-dependent changes in sensory responses, perceptual inference in the presence of signal-dependent noise accounts for ubiquitous features of sensory neurons such as divisive normalization, gain control and contrast dependent temporal dynamics.
Journal Title: PLoS Computational Biology
Volume: 13
Issue 6
ISSN: 1553-7358
Publisher: Public Library of Science  
Date Published: 2017-06-01
Start Page: Article number: e1005582
Copyright Statement: CC BY 4.0
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005582
Notes: This work was funded by SD’s James McDonnell foundation award (, European research council consolidation grant ( “Predispike”, and l’Agence Nationale de Recherche ( grants ANR-10-LABX-0087 IEC and ANR-10-IDEX- 0001-02 PSL. BG was funded by the Russian federal academic excellence program 5-100 to the NRU HSE. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Open access: yes (OA journal)