“For decades, the field has assumed, based largely on anatomy," says Dr. Sakmann of the Max Planck institute, "that the work of the cortex begins in layer 4. Dr. Bruno has produced a technical masterpiece that firmly establishes two separate input streams to the cortex.”
There's something comforting about the notion of scientists jumping to conclusions like this. Now when they laugh at Joni Mitchell for not wanting to ride on the top of a double decker bus because it has no driver, I can throw this back in their face.
The study suggests that upper and lower layers of the cerebral cortex form separate circuits and play separate roles in processing sensory information. Researchers think that the deeper layers are evolutionarily older—they are found in reptiles, for example, while the upper and middle layers, appear in more evolved species and are thickest in humans.
Researchers think that, do they? Sounds like another biased assumption. And of course, the more sophisticated, higher layers ought by rights to have a more key role in the hierarchy of the brain than the lower, more primitive ones... right? After all, everyone knows higher is better than lower, and they're more evolved, like us, which is also better... right?
“At this point, we still don’t know what, behaviorally, the different layers do,” says Dr. Bruno.
I guess the question to ask is what scientific "findings" now need revision based on this theoretical revisionism. And when those findings are changed, how long will the current view prevail due to belief persistence?
Personally, I find it unsurprising that the brain processes are not as simple as supposed by those who like everything tied in a nice linear bow. One gets a sense of ennui when people talk as if the whole of our experience were already clear to experts.
Luckily, it seems the brain is full of surprises yet.