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Intracortical Mechanism of Stimulus-Timing-Dependent Plasticity in Visual Cortical Orientation Tuning

Haishan Yao, Yaosong Shen, Yang Dan and Robert Desimone
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 101, No. 14 (Apr. 6, 2004), pp. 5081-5086
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3371822
Page Count: 6
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Intracortical Mechanism of Stimulus-Timing-Dependent Plasticity in Visual Cortical Orientation Tuning
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Abstract

Visual stimuli are known to induce various changes in the receptive field properties of adult cortical neurons, but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Repetitive pairing of stimuli at two orientations can induce a shift in cortical orientation tuning, with the direction and magnitude of the shift depending on the temporal order and interval between the pair. Although the temporal specificity of the effect on the order of tens of milliseconds strongly suggests spike-timing-dependent synaptic plasticity (STDP) as the underlying mechanism, it remains unclear whether the modification occurs within the cortex or at earlier stages of the visual pathway. In the present study, we examined the involvement of an intracortical mechanism in this functional modification. First, we measured interocular transfer of the shift induced by monocular conditioning. We found complete transfer of the effect at both the physiological and psychophysical levels, indicating that the modification occurs largely in the cortex. Second, we analyzed the spike timing of cortical neurons during conditioning and found it commensurate with the requirement of STDP. Finally, we compared the measured shift in orientation tuning with the prediction of a model circuit that exhibits STDP at intracortical connections. This model can account for not only the temporal specificity of the effect but also the dependence of the shift on both orientations in the conditioning pair. These results indicate that modification of intracortical connections is a key mechanism in the stimulus-timing-dependent plasticity in orientation tuning.

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