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Neuropsychologia. 2008;46(7):1979-91. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.01.018. Epub 2008 Feb 2.

Priming, response learning and repetition suppression.

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MRC Cognition & Brain Sciences Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 7EF, UK.


Prior exposure to a stimulus can facilitate its subsequent identification and classification, a phenomenon called priming. This behavioural facilitation is usually accompanied by a reduction in neural response within specific cortical regions (repetition suppression, RS). Recent research has suggested that both behavioural priming and RS can be largely determined by previously learned stimulus-response associations. According to this view, a direct association forms between the stimulus presented and the response made to it. On a subsequent encounter with the stimulus, this association automatically cues the response, bypassing the various processing stages that were required to select that response during its first presentation. Here we reproduce behavioural evidence for such stimulus-response associations, and show the PFC to be sensitive to such changes. In contrast, RS within ventral temporal regions (such as the fusiform cortex), which are usually associated with perceptual processing, is shown to be robust to response changes. The present study therefore suggests a dissociation between RS within the PFC, which may be sensitive to retrieval of stimulus-response associations, and RS within posterior perceptual regions, which may reflect facilitation of perceptual processing independent of stimulus-response associations.

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