Recurrent processing drives perceptual plasticity

Ke Jia, Elisa Zamboni, Valentin Kemper, Catarina Rua, Nuno Reis Goncalves, Adrian Ka Tsun Ng, Christopher T Rodgers, Guy Williams, Rainer Goebel, Zoe Kourtzi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Learning and experience are critical for translating ambiguous sensory information from our environments to perceptual decisions. Yet evidence on how training molds the adult human brain remains controversial, as fMRI at standard resolution does not allow us to discern the finer scale mechanisms that underlie sensory plasticity. Here, we combine ultra-high-field (7T) functional imaging at sub-millimeter resolution with orientation discrimination training to interrogate experience-dependent plasticity across cortical depths that are known to support dissociable brain computations. We demonstrate that learning alters orientation-specific representations in superficial rather than middle or deeper V1 layers, consistent with recurrent plasticity mechanisms via horizontal connections. Further, learning increases feedforward rather than feedback layer-to-layer connectivity in occipito-parietal regions, suggesting that sensory plasticity gates perceptual decisions. Our findings reveal finer scale plasticity mechanisms that re-weight sensory signals to inform improved decisions, bridging the gap between micro- and macro-circuits of experience-dependent plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Biology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Sep 2020

Cite this

Jia, K., Zamboni, E., Kemper, V., Rua, C., Goncalves, N. R., Ng, A. K. T., Rodgers, C. T., Williams, G., Goebel, R., & Kourtzi, Z. (2020). Recurrent processing drives perceptual plasticity. Current Biology.