Learning-induced biases in the ongoing dynamics of sensory representations predict stimulus generalization

Dominik F. Aschauer, Jens Bastian Eppler, Luke Ewig, Anna R. Chambers, Christoph Pokorny, Matthias Kaschube, Simon Rumpel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sensory stimuli have long been thought to be represented in the brain as activity patterns of specific neuronal assemblies. However, we still know relatively little about the long-term dynamics of sensory representations. Using chronic in vivo calcium imaging in the mouse auditory cortex, we find that sensory representations undergo continuous recombination, even under behaviorally stable conditions. Auditory cued fear conditioning introduces a bias into these ongoing dynamics, resulting in a long-lasting increase in the number of stimuli activating the same subset of neurons. This plasticity is specific for stimuli sharing representational similarity to the conditioned sound prior to conditioning and predicts behaviorally observed stimulus generalization. Our findings demonstrate that learning-induced plasticity leading to a representational linkage between the conditioned stimulus and non-conditioned stimuli weaves into ongoing dynamics of the brain rather than acting on an otherwise static substrate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110340
JournalCell Reports
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2022


  • associations
  • auditory cortex
  • auditory-cued fear conditioning
  • chronic calcium imaging
  • mouse
  • perception
  • population coding
  • representational drift
  • response transitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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