A circuit mechanism of time-to-space conversion for perception

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Sensory information in a temporal sequence is processed as a collective unit by the nervous system. The cellular mechanisms underlying how sequential inputs are incorporated into the brain has emerged as an important subject in neuroscience. Here, we hypothesize that information-bearing (IB) signals can be entrained and amplified by a clock signal, allowing them to efficiently propagate along in a feedforward circuit. IB signals can remain latent on individual dendrites of the receiving neurons until they are read out by an oscillatory clock signal. In such a way, the IB signals pass through the next neurons along a linear chain. This hypothesis identifies a cellular process of time-to-space and sound-to-map conversion in primary auditory cortex, providing insight into a mechanistic principle underlying the representation and memory of temporal sequences of information.HighlightsPerception of visual motion, music melody and speech stream must rely on temporal/sequential information.Excitatory feedforward circuits require a mnemonic buffer network to transform temporal signals into spatial patterns.Such a transformation requires signal amplification and synchronization with brain oscillation as a clock signal.Combination of signal amplification and synchronization with a clock signal allows us to see, hear and speak.

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