The neural mechanisms underlying visual perceptual learning (VPL) have typically been studied by examining changes in task-related brain activation after training. However, the relationship between post-task “offline” processes and VPL remains unclear. The present study examined this question by obtaining resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of human brains before and after a task-fMRI session involving visual perceptual training. During the task-fMRI session, participants performed a motion coherence discrimination task in which they judged the direction of moving dots with a coherence level that varied between trials (20, 40, and 80%). We found that stimulus-induced activation increased with motion coherence in the middle temporal cortex (MT+), a feature-specific region representing visual motion. On the other hand, stimulus-induced activation decreased with motion coherence in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and bilateral insula, regions involved in decision making under perceptual ambiguity. Moreover, by comparing pre-task and post-task rest periods, we revealed that resting-state functional connectivity (rs-FC) with the MT+ was significantly increased after training in widespread cortical regions including the bilateral sensorimotor and temporal cortices. In contrast, rs-FC with the MT+ was significantly decreased in subcortical regions including the thalamus and putamen. Importantly, the training-induced change in rs-FC was observed only with the MT+, but not with the dACC or insula. Thus, our findings suggest that perceptual training induces plastic changes in offline functional connectivity specifically in brain regions representing the trained visual feature, emphasising the distinct roles of feature-representation regions and decision-related regions in VPL.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)