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Krishna Srihasam, Margaret Livingstone; Anatomical correlates of early vs. late symbol training. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):1009. doi: 10.1167/11.11.1009.
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Five monkeys were trained intensively for three years to choose between pairs of symbols using in-cage touch-screens. Two of the monkeys were trained as adults and three as juveniles. The monkeys were subsequently scanned using functional MRI while alert and passively viewing the learned symbols, faces, or unfamiliar shapes. In the juvenile-trained monkeys, regions in the occipitotemporal region, in area TE, were activated more by the learned symbols than by unfamiliar shapes. The two adult-trained, as well as another adult monkey who had not been trained on any of the symbols, did not show any preferential activation by the learned compared to control shapes. These results demonstrate that intensive early experience can drive the emergence of both behavioral expertise and dedicated brain circuits for recognizing stimuli commonly used by humans but never used naturally by monkeys.
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