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Jiye Kim, Julie Blumberg, Franz Aiple, Peter Reinacher, Jed Singer, Armin Brandt, Andres Schulze-Bonhage, Gabriel Kreiman; Neuronal correlates of rapid learning in the human medial temporal lobe. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):483. doi: 10.1167/17.10.483.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
One of the greatest feats in human cognition is the ability to rapidly acquire new information. A prominent example of this ability is manifested during learning to identify new objects, even after single trial exposures. The neural mechanisms subserving this behavior, however, are largely unknown. Here, we studied neuronal responses to instances of single shot learning using Mooney images. Mooney images render objects in binary black and white in such a way that they can be very difficult to recognize. After exposure to the corresponding grayscale image, it becomes easier to recognize the objects in the original Mooney image. We recorded single unit responses in the human brain, mostly from the medial temporal lobe, from 13 epilepsy patients implanted with electrodes for clinical purposes. The experiment began with presentation of Mooney images. Subjects learned the identity of these initially unrecognized Mooney images via paired viewing of their grayscale counterparts. Finally, the Mooney images were presented again alone. We compared the neuronal responses of 1118 unit clusters in response to three main conditions: (i) Mooney images that were not recognized (preGS), (ii) identical Mooney images that were recognized (postGS) and (iii) corresponding grayscale images (GS). About 20% of them showed significant modulation of firing rates in the 0-500 ms interval after stimulus onset across conditions. Of those units, 12% showed firing rate modulation dependent on changes in recognition with similar responses to postGS and GS and different responses to preGS and postGS. Additionally, 32% of those units showed similar responses to preGS and postGS and different responses to GS and postGS. These results demonstrate a single unit signature of rapid learning in the human medial temporal lobe and provide initial steps to understand the mechanisms by which top-down inputs can rapidly orchestrate plastic changes in neuronal circuitry.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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