Fine discrimination training alters the causal contribution of macaque area MT to depth perception

Neuron. 2008 Oct 23;60(2):367-77. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.08.023.


When a new perceptual task is learned, plasticity occurs in the brain to mediate improvements in performance with training. How do these changes affect the neural substrates of previously learned tasks? We addressed this question by examining the effect of fine discrimination training on the causal contribution of area MT to coarse depth discrimination. When monkeys are trained to discriminate between two coarse absolute disparities (near versus far) embedded in noise, reversible inactivation of area MT devastates performance. In contrast, after animals are trained to discriminate fine differences in relative disparity, MT inactivation no longer impairs coarse depth discrimination. This effect does not result from changes in the disparity tuning of MT neurons, suggesting plasticity in the flow of disparity signals to decision circuitry. These findings show that the contribution of particular brain area to task performance can change dramatically as a result of learning new tasks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Decision Making / drug effects
  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Depth Perception / drug effects
  • Depth Perception / physiology*
  • Discrimination Learning / drug effects
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • GABA Agonists / pharmacology
  • Learning / drug effects
  • Learning / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta / anatomy & histology
  • Macaca mulatta / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscimol / pharmacology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Temporal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Temporal Lobe / drug effects
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Cortex / drug effects
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology


  • GABA Agonists
  • Muscimol