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Plasticity in the structure of visual space

Song, Chen, Haun, Andrew M. and Tononi, Giulio 2017. Plasticity in the structure of visual space. eNeuro 4 (3) , e0080-17.2017. 10.1523/ENEURO.0080-17.2017

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Visual space embodies all visual experiences, yet what determines the topographical structure of visual space remains unclear. Here we test a novel theoretical framework that proposes intrinsic lateral connections in the visual cortex as the mechanism underlying the structure of visual space. The framework suggests that the strength of lateral connections between neurons in the visual cortex shapes the experience of spatial relatedness between locations in the visual field. As such, an increase in lateral connection strength shall lead to an increase in perceived relatedness and a contraction in perceived distance. To test this framework through human psychophysics experiments, we used a Hebbian training protocol in which two-point stimuli were flashed in synchrony at separate locations in the visual field, to strengthen the lateral connections between two separate groups of neurons in the visual cortex. After training, participants experienced a contraction in perceived distance. Intriguingly, the perceptual contraction occurred not only between the two training locations that were linked directly by the changed connections, but also between the outward untrained locations that were linked indirectly through the changed connections. Moreover, the effect of training greatly decreased if the two training locations were too close together or too far apart and went beyond the extent of lateral connections. These findings suggest that a local change in the strength of lateral connections is sufficient to alter the topographical structure of visual space

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Additional Information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.
Publisher: Society for Neuroscience: eNeuro
ISSN: 2373-2822
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 November 2017
Date of Acceptance: 1 June 2017
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2021 10:15

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