August 2010
Volume 10, Issue 7
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2010
Neural correlates of perceptual learning in the human visual cortex
Author Affiliations
  • Janneke Jehee
    Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University
    Vanderbilt Vision Research Center, Vanderbilt University
    These authors contributed equally to this work
  • Sam Ling
    Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University
    Vanderbilt Vision Research Center, Vanderbilt University
    These authors contributed equally to this work
  • Jascha Swisher
    Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University
    Vanderbilt Vision Research Center, Vanderbilt University
  • Frank Tong
    Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University
    Vanderbilt Vision Research Center, Vanderbilt University
Journal of Vision August 2010, Vol.10, 1133. doi:10.1167/10.7.1133
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      Janneke Jehee, Sam Ling, Jascha Swisher, Frank Tong; Neural correlates of perceptual learning in the human visual cortex. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):1133. doi: 10.1167/10.7.1133.

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Abstract

Although practice is known to improve perceptual discrimination of basic visual features, such as small differences in the orientation of line patterns, the neural basis of this improvement is less well understood. Here, we used functional MRI in combination with pattern-based analyses to probe the neural concomitants of perceptual learning. Subjects extensively practiced discriminating small differences in the orientation of a peripherally presented grating. Training occurred in daily 1-hour sessions across 20 days, during which subjects performed the task based on a single orientation at a single location in the visual field. BOLD activity was measured before and after training, while subjects performed the orientation discrimination task on the trained orientation and location, as well as three other orientations and a second isoeccentric location. Behavioral thresholds showed large improvements in performance after training, with a 40% mean reduction in thresholds for the trained orientation at the trained location, and no significant improvement for any of the other conditions. However, analysis of the amplitude of the BOLD response did not reveal a location- or orientation-specific change in gross activity in early visual areas. To test whether learning nonetheless improved the representation of the trained orientation at the trained location, we used a pattern-based analysis to decode the presented stimulus orientation from cortical activity in these regions. Preliminary analyses indicated better decoding performance in areas V1 and V2 for the trained orientation and location, as compared to the untrained conditions. These results suggest that, when analyzed at the population level, perceptual learning results in an improved early-level representation at the trained location for the trained visual feature.

Jehee, J. Ling, S. Swisher, J. Tong, F. (2010). Neural correlates of perceptual learning in the human visual cortex [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 10(7):1133, 1133a, http://www.journalofvision.org/content/10/7/1133, doi:10.1167/10.7.1133. [CrossRef]
Footnotes
 This work was supported by a Rubicon grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) to J.J., NRSA grant F32 EY019802 to S.L., NRSA grant F32 EY019448 to J.S., NEI grant R01 EY017082 to F.T., and NEI center grant P30 EY008126.
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