September 2011
Volume 11, Issue 11
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2011
White matter connectivity changes between visual and higher-level cortical regions in association with perceptual learning revealed by diffusion tensor tractography
Author Affiliations
  • Dong-Wha Kang
    Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, USA
    Department of Neurology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan, Seoul, South Korea
  • Charles Liu
    Department of Psychology, Boston University, USA
  • Li-Hung Chang
    Department of Psychology, Boston University, USA
  • Emi Takahashi
    Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, USA
    Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, USA
  • Takeo Watanabe
    Department of Psychology, Boston University, USA
  • Yuka Sasaki
    Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, USA
Journal of Vision September 2011, Vol.11, 990. doi:10.1167/11.11.990
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      Dong-Wha Kang, Charles Liu, Li-Hung Chang, Emi Takahashi, Takeo Watanabe, Yuka Sasaki; White matter connectivity changes between visual and higher-level cortical regions in association with perceptual learning revealed by diffusion tensor tractography. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):990. doi: 10.1167/11.11.990.

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Abstract

Perceptual learning (PL) is defined as a long-term increase of performance in a visual task as a result of training and is regarded as a manifestation of plasticity in the visual system. It has been shown that some types of PL are associated with an increase of BOLD signal in the region of V1, which corresponds to the trained location (e.g., Yotsumoto et al, 2008). However, it is not clear whether structural plasticity occurs in association of PL. Neither is it whether plasticity occurs only locally within the visual cortex or globally in connectivity between the visual cortex and higher stages. To address these questions, we used diffusion tractography to identify several white matter pathways running between the visual cortex and the anterior part of the brain. Seven young adults underwent 14 daily behavioral training sessions of a texture discrimination task (TDT: Karni and Sagi, 1991). Subjects also underwent four diffusion tensor imaging scans: pre-training, after 1, 6 and 14 training sessions. Superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF) and inferior occipito-frontal fasciculus (infOFF) were selected for investigation because these tracts are known to be involved in visuospatial processing, and can be reliably identified by deterministic diffusion tractography in vivo. Fractional anisotropy (FA), which represents the integrity of white matter on the identified pathways was obtained across training periods and was normalized relative to the whole brain. Behavioral results indicated that performance in TDT significantly improved by training. Results by the tractography indicated that FA values of the right infOFF and the left ILF were significantly increased after 14 training sessions. These results suggest that axonal connectivity changes occur between the visual cortex and the frontal or temporal areas, while functional activity changes occur mostly in the visual cortex, in association with PL of TDT.

NIH EY015980, EY019466, AG031941, MH091801, NCRR P41RR14075, NSF BCS 0964776. 
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