Perceptual training continuously refines neuronal population codes in primary visual cortex

Perceptual training continuously refines neuronal population codes in primary visual cortex

Perceptual learning significantly improves visual discrimination and detection ability, which has been associated with visual cortical plasticity. However, little is known about the dynamic changes in neuronal response properties over the course of training. In this study, using chronically implanted multielectrode arrays, we were able to capture day-by-day spatiotemporal dynamics of neurons in the primary visual cortex (V1) of monkeys trained to detect camouflaged visual contours. We found progressive strengthening and accelerating in both facilitation of neurons encoding the contour elements and suppression of neurons responding to the background components. The enhancement of this push-pull process in V1 was closely correlated with improved behavioral performance on a daily basis. Decoding accuracy of a simple linear classifier based on V1 population responses also paralleled the animal’s behavioral changes. Our results indicate that perceptual learning shapes the V1 population code to allow for a more efficient readout of task-relevant information.

{Yin Yan | Malte J. Rasch | Minggui Chen}, Xiaoping Xiang, Min Huang, Si Wu, Wu Li*. Perceptual training continuously refines neuronal population codes in primary visual cortex.  Nature Neuroscience 17,1380–1387

Read also the commentary by  Aniruddha Das.