For decades, scientists studying the visual system thought that individual brain cells, called neurons, operate as filters. Some neurons would prefer coarse details of the visual scene and ignore fine details, while others would do the opposite. Every neuron was thought to do its own filtering.
A new study led by Salk Institute researchers challenges this view. The study revealed that the same neurons that prefer coarse details could change to prefer finer details under different conditions. The work, which appeared in the journal Neuron on December 31, 2018, could help to better understand neural mechanisms that shape our perceptions of the world.