The Brain ‘Rotates’ Memories to Save Them From New Sensations

This use of orthogonal coding to separate and protect information in the brain has been seen before. For instance, when monkeys are preparing to move, neural activity in their motor cortex represents the potential movement but does so orthogonally to avoid interfering with signals driving actual commands to the muscles.

Still, it often hasn’t been clear how the neural activity gets transformed in this way. Buschman and Libby wanted to answer that question for what they were observing in the auditory cortex of their mice. “When I first started in the lab, it was hard for me to imagine how something like that could happen with neural firing activity,” Libby said. She wanted to “open the black box of what the neural network is doing…

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