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J Vis. 2008 Sep 19;8(12):4.1-12. doi: 10.1167/8.12.4.

The McCollough effect reflects permanent and transient adaptation in early visual cortex.

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Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA.


The brain encounters input varying with many different time courses. Given such temporal variability, it would seem practical for adaptation to operate at multiple timescales. Indeed, to account for peculiar effects such as spacing, savings, and spontaneous recovery, many recent models of learning and adaptation have postulated multiple mechanisms operating at different timescales. However, despite this assumption, and compelling modelling results, different timescales of cortical adaptation and learning are rarely isolated in behaving animals. Here we demonstrate in a series of experiments that early visual cortex adapts at two distinct and separable timescales: fast (saturating with a time constant of roughly 30 seconds) and infinite (a perfect integrator: exhibiting no signs of decay or diminishing returns within the range of intervals tested). We further demonstrate that these two timescales sum linearly and appear to be operating independently and in parallel.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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