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Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 22;7(1):9069. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-09181-6.

The influence of vision on tactile Hebbian learning.

Kuehn E1,2,3, Doehler J4,5, Pleger B4,6.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, 04103, Germany. esther.kuehn@dzne.de.
2
Center for Behavioral and Brain Sciences Magdeburg, Magdeburg, 39106, Germany. esther.kuehn@dzne.de.
3
Aging and Cognition Research Group, DZNE, Magdeburg, 39106, Germany. esther.kuehn@dzne.de.
4
Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, 04103, Germany.
5
Institute of Psychology, Leipzig University, 04109, Leipzig, Germany.
6
Department of Neurology, BG University Hospital Bergmannsheil, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, 44789, Germany.

Abstract

NMDA-dependent Hebbian learning drives neuronal plasticity in different cortical areas, and across species. In the primary somatosensory cortex (S-I), Hebbian learning is induced via the persistent low-rate afferent stimulation of a small area of skin. In particular, plasticity is induced in superficial cortical layers II/III of the S-I cortex that represents the stimulated area of skin. Here, we used the model system of NMDA-dependent Hebbian learning to investigate the influence of non-afferent (visual) input on Hebbian plasticity in S-I. We induced Hebbian learning in 48 participants by applying 3 hours of tactile coactivation to the right index fingertip via small loudspeaker membranes. During coactivation, different groups viewed either touches to individual fingers, which is known to activate S-I receptive fields, touches to an object, which should not activate S-I receptive fields, or no touch at all. Our results show that coactivation significantly lowers tactile spatial discrimination thresholds at the stimulated finger post- versus pre-training across groups. However, we did not find evidence for a significant modulatory effect of visual condition on tactile spatial discrimination performance. This suggests that non-afferent (visual) signals do not interact with Hebbian learning in superficial cortical layers of S-I, but may integrate into deeper cortical layers instead.

PMID:
28831156
PMCID:
PMC5567334
DOI:
10.1038/s41598-017-09181-6
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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