The response from many neurons needs to be pooled together in order to reconstruct the sensory input (the hidden cause) from the firing rates of neurons. There is an optimal way to combine the neurons from the population in order to reconstruct the direction of the moving stimuli (Jazayeri and Movshon 2006). An optimal combination is obtained when the weights of each neuron are adjusted with respect to their tuning function.
However, it was currently unknown of these optimal gain could arise in the brain. In this theoretical paper, Habenschuss and colleagues suggest that spike-timing dependent plasticity, an elementary plasticity rule, can lead to optimal gains.