Pierre-Olivier Polack, DVM, PhD
Center for Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (USA)
Invited by Lisa Roux (IINS)
Neuronal mechanisms underpinning perceptual learning: role of generalization and categorization.
Perceptual learning refers to the improvement in task performance resulting from practice or training. In today’s neuroscience research, perceptual training is commonly the first experimental step when investigating the neural mechanisms of perception, decision-making, or attention. Yet, little is known on how perceptual training transforms sensory processing. In our laboratory, we are investigating the neuronal mechanisms underpinning perceptual learning by performing two-photon calcium imaging in the primary visual cortex (V1) of mice performing an orientation discrimination task. We recently found that perceptual training is associated with the emergence of surround-suppression filters that distort the representation of the orientation of the task cues in V1. We demonstrated that those filters underpin two important computational mechanisms for sensory processing: generalization and categorization. Hence, we show that perceptual training affects the faithfulness of sensory representations in the visual cortex to facilitate learning.