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Neural correlates of perceptual learning in a sensory-motor, but not a sensory, cortical area

Summary: Neural correlates of perceptual learning in a sensory-
motor, but not a sensory, cortical area
Chi-Tat Law & Joshua I Gold
This study aimed to identify neural mechanisms that underlie perceptual learning in a visual-discrimination task. We trained two
monkeys (Macaca mulatta) to determine the direction of visual motion while we recorded from their middle temporal area (MT),
which in trained monkeys represents motion information that is used to solve the task, and lateral intraparietal area (LIP), which
represents the transformation of motion information into a saccadic choice. During training, improved behavioral sensitivity to
weak motion signals was accompanied by changes in motion-driven responses of neurons in LIP, but not in MT. The time course
and magnitude of the changes in LIP correlated with the changes in behavioral sensitivity throughout training. Thus, for this task,
perceptual learning does not appear to involve improvements in how sensory information is represented in the brain, but rather
how the sensory representation is interpreted to form the decision that guides behavior.
Training can induce long-lasting improvements in our ability to detect,
discriminate or identify sensory stimuli1. Despite the prevalence of this
phenomenon, called perceptual learning, our understanding of the
underlying neural plasticity is incomplete. Changes in early sensory
areas of the cortex have been inferred from psychophysical studies2 (but
see refs. 3,4) and identified in monkeys trained on auditory5 and
somatosensory6 tasks. However, monkeys trained on visual tasks show
only moderate or no change in early visual cortex711. Changes in
higher stages of processing, including those that contribute to decision-


Source: Andrzejak, Ralph Gregor - Departament de Tecnologia, Universitat Pompeu Fabra


Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences