1. Neuroscience
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Rapid learning in visual cortical networks

  1. Ye Wang
  2. Valentin Dragoi  Is a corresponding author
  1. The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, United States
Research Article
  • Cited 5
  • Views 1,577
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Cite this article as: eLife 2015;4:e08417 doi: 10.7554/eLife.08417


Although changes in brain activity during learning have been extensively examined at the single neuron level, the coding strategies employed by cell populations remain mysterious. We examined neuronal populations in macaque area V4 during a rapid form of perceptual learning that emerges within tens of minutes. Multiple single-units and LFP responses were recorded as monkeys improved their performance in an image discrimination task. We show that the increase in behavioral performance during learning is predicted by a tight coordination of spike timing with local population activity. More spike-LFP theta synchronization is correlated with higher learning performance while high-frequency synchronization is unrelated with changes in performance, but these changes were absent once learning had stabilized and stimuli became familiar or in the absence of learning. These findings reveal a novel mechanism of plasticity in visual cortex by which elevated low-frequency synchronization between individual neurons and local population activity accompanies the improvement in performance during learning.

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Author details

  1. Ye Wang

    Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Valentin Dragoi

    Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.


Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All of the animals were handled according to approved institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) protocols (AWC-14-0114) of the Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The protocol was approved by the Committee on the Ethics of Animal Experiments of the Texas Health Science Center at Houston. All surgery was performed under isoflurane anesthesia, and every effort was made to minimize suffering.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Sacha B Nelson, Brandeis University, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: April 29, 2015
  2. Accepted: August 25, 2015
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: August 26, 2015 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: September 30, 2015 (version 2)


© 2015, Wang & Dragoi

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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