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Fang Fang, Nihong Chen, Peng Cai, Tiangang Zhou, Benjamin Thompson; Perceptual learning modifies the functional specializations of visual cortical areas. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1091. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/16.12.1091.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Training can improve performance of perceptual tasks. This phenomenon, known as perceptual learning, is strongest for the trained task and stimulus, leading to a widely accepted assumption that the associated neuronal plasticity is restricted to brain circuits that mediate performance of the trained task. Nevertheless, learning does transfer to other tasks and stimuli, implying the presence of more widespread plasticity. Here, we trained human subjects to discriminate the direction of coherent motion stimuli. The training effect substantially transferred to noisy motion stimuli. TMS and fMRI measures showed that, before training, visual cortical areas V3A and MT+ made causal and dissociable contributions to the processing of coherent and noisy motion, respectively. After training, the contribution of MT+ to the processing of noisy motion diminished and was superseded by V3A. Our results suggest that learning can modify the inherent functional specializations of visual areas and dynamically reweight their contributions to perceptual decisions.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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