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Biosystems. 2010 Jul;101(1):37-41. doi: 10.1016/j.biosystems.2010.04.003. Epub 2010 Apr 14.

Progressive plasticity of auditory cortex during appetitive operant conditioning.

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1
Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, Japan. takahashi@i.u-tokyo.ac.jp

Abstract

In stimulus-response-outcome learning, different regions in the cortico-basal ganglia network are progressively involved according to the stage of learning. However, the involvement of sensory cortex remains ellusive even though massive cortical projections to the striatum imply its significant role in this learning. Here we show that the global tonotopic representation in the auditory cortex changed progressively depending on the stage of training in auditory operant conditioning. At the early stage, tone-responsive areas mainly in the core cortex expanded, while both the core and belt cortices shrank at the late stage as behavior became conditioned. Taken together with previous findings, this progressive global plasticity from the core to belt cortices suggests differentiated roles in these areas: the core cortex serves as a filter to better identify auditory objects for hierarchical computation within the belt cortex, while the belt stores auditory objects and affects decision making through direct projections to limbic system and higher association cortex. Thus, the progressive plasticity in the present study reflects a shift from identification to storage of a behaviorally relevant auditory object, which is potentially associated with a habitual behavior.

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