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J Neurophysiol. 2007 Apr;97(4):2612-26. Epub 2007 Jan 31.

Effects of perceptual learning on local stereopsis and neuronal responses of V1 and V2 in prism-reared monkeys.

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  • 1College of Optometry, University of Houston, 505 J. Davis Armistead Bldg., Houston, TX 77204-2020, USA.

Abstract

Visual performance improves with practice (perceptual learning). In this study, we sought to determine whether or not adult monkeys reared with early abnormal visual experience improve their stereoacuity by extensive psychophysical training and testing, and if so, whether alterations of neuronal responses in the primary visual cortex (V1) and/or visual area 2 (V2) are involved in such improvement. Strabismus was optically simulated in five macaque monkeys using a prism-rearing procedure between 4 and 14 wk of age. Around 2 yr of age, three of the prism-reared monkeys ("trained" monkeys) were tested for their spatial contrast sensitivity and stereoacuity. Two other prism-reared monkeys received no training or testing ("untrained" monkeys). Microelectrode experiments were conducted around 4 yr of age. All three prism-reared trained monkeys showed improvement in stereoacuity by a factor of 7 or better. However, final stereothresholds were still approximately 10-20 times worse than those in normal monkeys. In V1, disparity sensitivity was drastically reduced in both the trained and untrained prism-reared monkeys and behavioral training had no obvious effect. In V2, the disparity sensitivity in the trained monkeys was better by a factor of approximately 2.0 compared with that in the untrained monkeys. These data suggest that the observed improvement in stereoacuity of the trained prism-reared monkeys may have resulted from better retention of disparity sensitivity in V2 and/or from "learning" by upstream neurons to more efficiently attend to residual local disparity information in V1 and V2.

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