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Brain correlates of experience-dependent changes in stimulus discrimination based on the amount and schedule of exposure

Mundy, Matthew E., Downing, Paul E., Honey, Robert C. ORCID:, Singh, Krish D. ORCID:, Graham, Kim S. ORCID: and Dwyer, Dominic M. ORCID: 2014. Brain correlates of experience-dependent changes in stimulus discrimination based on the amount and schedule of exposure. PLoS ONE 9 (6) , e101011. 10.1371/journal.pone.0101011

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One product of simple exposure to similar visual stimuli is that they become easier to distinguish. The early visual cortex and other brain areas (such as the prefrontal cortex) have been implicated in such perceptual learning effects, but the anatomical specificity within visual cortex and the relationship between sensory cortex and other brain areas has yet to be examined. Moreover, while variations in the schedule (rather than merely the amount) of exposure influence experience-dependent improvement in discrimination, the neural sequelae of exposure schedule have not been fully investigated. In an event-related fMRI study, participants were exposed to confusable pairs of faces, scenes and dot patterns, using either intermixed or blocked presentation schedules. Participants then performed same/different judgements with exposed and novel pairs of stimuli. Stimulus independent activation, which was correlated with experience-dependent improvement in discrimination, was seen in frontal areas (e.g. frontal and supplementary eye fields and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) and in early visual cortex (V1-4). In all regions, the difference in activation between exposed and novel stimuli decreased as a function of the degree of discrimination improvement. Overall levels of BOLD activation differed across regions, consistent with the possibility that, as a consequence of experience, processing shifts from initial engagement of early visual regions to higher order visual areas. Similar relationships were observed when contrasting intermixed with blocked exposure, suggesting that the schedule of exposure primarily influences the degree of, rather than the mechanisms for, discrimination performance.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Systems Immunity Research Institute (SIURI)
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Additional Information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
Funders: BBRSC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 2 June 2014
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2023 16:57

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