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Perceptual learning beyond perception: Mnemonic representation in early visual cortex and intraparietal sulcus

Perceptual learning beyond perception: Mnemonic representation in early visual cortex and intraparietal sulcus

Authors: 
Ke Jia, Ya Li, Mengyuan Gong, Hui Huang, Yonghui Wang, Sheng Li
Year: 
2021
Journal: 
Journal of Neuroscience
Abstract: 

The ability to discriminate between stimuli relies on a chain of neural operations associated with perception, memory and decision-making. Accumulating studies show learning-dependent plasticity in perception or decision-making, yet whether perceptual learning modifies mnemonic processing remains unclear. Here, we trained human participants of both sexes in an orientation discrimination task, while using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to separately examine training-induced changes in working memory (WM) representation. fMRI decoding revealed orientation-specific neural patterns during the delay period in primary visual cortex (V1) before, but not after, training, whereas neurodisruption of V1 during the delay period led to behavioral deficits in both phases. In contrast, both fMRI decoding and disruptive effect of TMS showed that intraparietal sulcus (IPS) represented WM content after, but not before, training. These results suggest that training does not affect the necessity of sensory area in representing WM information, consistent with the sensory recruitment hypothesis in WM, but likely alters the coding format of the stored stimulus in this region. On the other hand, training can render WM content to be maintained in higher-order parietal areas, complementing sensory area to support more robust maintenance of information.

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