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J Neurosci. 2000 Feb 15;20(4):1597-604.

Tactile coactivation-induced changes in spatial discrimination performance.

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  • 1Institute of Medical Psychology, University of Tübingen, 72074 Tübingen, Germany. benjamin.godde@uni-tuebingen.de

Abstract

We studied coactivation-based cortical plasticity at a psychophysical level in humans. For induction of plasticity, we used a protocol of simultaneous pairing of tactile stimulation to follow as closely as possible the idea of Hebbian learning. We reported previously that a few hours of tactile coactivation resulted in selective and reversible reorganization of receptive fields and cortical maps of the hindpaw representation of the somatosensory cortex of adult rats (Godde et al., 1996). In the present study, simultaneous spatial two-point discrimination was tested on the tip of the right index finger in human subjects as a marker of plastic changes. After 2 hr of coactivation we found a significant improvement in discrimination performance that was reversible within 8 hr. Reduction of the duration of the coactivation protocol revealed that 30 min was not sufficient to drive plastic changes. Repeated application of coactivation over 3 consecutive days resulted in a delayed recovery indicating stabilization of the improvement over time. Perceptual changes were highly selective because no transfer of improved performance to fingers that were not stimulated was found. The results demonstrate the potential role of sensory input statistics (i.e., their probability of occurrence and spatiotemporal relationships) in the induction of cortical plasticity without involving cognitive factors such as attention or reinforcement.

PMID:
10662849
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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