Perceptual learning increases the strength of the earliest signals in visual cortex

Min Bao, Lin Yang, Cristina Rios, Bin He, Stephen A. Engel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Training improves performance on most visual tasks. Such perceptual learning can modify how information is read out from, and represented in, later visual areas, but effects on early visual cortex are controversial. In particular, it remains unknown whether learning can reshape neural response properties in early visual areas independent from feedback arising in later cortical areas. Here, we tested whether learning can modify feedforward signals in early visual cortex as measured by the human electroencephalogram. Fourteen subjects were trained for >24 d to detect a diagonal grating pattern in one quadrant of the visual field. Training improved performance, reducing the contrast needed for reliable detection, and also reliably increased the amplitude of the earliest component of the visual evoked potential, the C1. Control orientations and locations showed smaller effects of training. Because the C1 arises rapidly and has a source in early visual cortex, our results suggest that learning can increase early visual area response through local receptive field changes without feedback from later areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15080-15084
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 10 2010


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