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Science. 2006 Mar 17;311(5767):1606-9.

Reward timing in the primary visual cortex.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


We discovered that when adult rats experience an association between visual stimuli and subsequent rewards, the responses of a substantial fraction of neurons in the primary visual cortex evolve from those that relate solely to the physical attributes of the stimuli to those that accurately predict the timing of reward. In addition to revealing a remarkable type of response plasticity in adult V1, these data demonstrate that reward-timing activity-a "higher" brain function-can occur very early in sensory-processing paths. These findings challenge the traditional interpretation of activity in the primary visual cortex.

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