Tuesday, Dec 15, 2020. 12:00 noon - 01:00 PM ETLink to Zoom for Online Seminar.

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Michael Arcaro -- Topographic constraints on visual development

Abstract: We are remarkably good at recognizing objects and faces in our environment, even after just a brief glimpse. How do we develop the neural circuitry that supports such robust perception? The biological importance of faces for social primates and the stereotyped location of face-selective brain regions across individuals has engendered the idea that face regions are innate neural structures. I will present data challenging this view, where face regions in monkeys were not present at birth but instead emerged in stereotyped locations within the first few postnatal months. Indeed, experience appears to be necessary for the formation of these specialized regions: Monkeys raised without exposure to faces did not develop face regions. But if specialized regions require experience, why do they emerge in such stereotyped locations? At birth, a series of hierarchically organized retinotopic maps, in which adjacent neurons represent adjacent points in visual space, are present throughout the visual system. These retinotopic maps carry with them selectivity biases for low-level features commonly found in faces and are predictive of where face regions will emerge later in development. These findings reveal that experience-driven changes are anchored to the intrinsic topographic architecture of visual cortex, establishing a framework for understanding how neural representations come to support visual perception.

Bio: Michael Arcaro received his PhD at Princeton working with Drs. Sabine Kastner and Uri Hasson on organizing principles of the adult human and macaque visual system. He went on to do a postdoc with Dr. Margaret Livingstone at Harvard Medical School studying visual development in baby macaque monkeys. He recently moved to UPenn and setup his own lab studying how intrinsic and experience-driven processes interact through development to shape brain organization and behavior.