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Neuron. 2005 Jun 2;46(5):823-35.

Top-down reorganization of activity in the visual pathway after learning a shape identification task.

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The Rockefeller University, New York, New York, USA.


Learning in shape identification led to global changes in activation across the entire visual pathway, as revealed with whole-brain fMRI. Following extensive training in a shape identification task, brain activity associated with trained shapes relative to the untrained shapes showed: (1) an increased level of activity in retinotopic cortex (RC), (2) a decrease in activation of the lateral occipital cortex (LO), and (3) a decrease in the dorsal attentional network. In addition, RC activations became more correlated (and LO activation, less correlated) with performance. When comparing target-present and target-absent trials within the trained condition, we observed a similar decrease in the dorsal attentional network but not in the visual cortices. These findings indicate a large-scale reorganization of activity in the visual pathway as a result of learning, with the RC becoming more involved (and the LO, less involved) and that these changes are triggered in a top-down manner depending on the perceptual task performed.

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