• A new paper shows that dramatic changes occur in the primary visual cortex when mice learn to distinguish novel from familiar visual stimuli. Manipulations that prevented the changes in visual cortex also blocked memory formation.
  • They showed that mice move to investigate a visual stimulus that has never before been experienced, but stop moving when the same stimulus becomes familiar. They discovered that as familiarity was learned, synaptic transmission was changed in the primary visual cortex. Preventing or reversing this synaptic plasticity in visual cortex left the animals unable to distinguish familiar and novel visual stimuli.
  • They anticipate that the results will surprise neuroscientists. “We find that, contrary to the dogma that the primary visual cortex is relatively immutable in adults, a form of visual experience induces synaptic modifications in this area, and these modifications are necessary for a type of visual recognition memory.”

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