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The influence of vision on tactile Hebbian learning.

The influence of vision on tactile Hebbian learning.
Author Information (click to view)

Kuehn E, Doehler J, Pleger B,


Kuehn E, Doehler J, Pleger B, (click to view)

Kuehn E, Doehler J, Pleger B,

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Scientific reports 2017 08 227(1) 9069 doi 10.1038/s41598-017-09181-6
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.

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