Dissecting the neural circuits for visual perceptual learning
Dr Jasper Poort
University of Cambridge
The capacity to learn is essential for us to adapt to our environment. Visual perceptual learning (VPL) is the improved performance of a visual task after training. However, it is poorly understood whether improvements are due to changes in specialised visual brain areas or in more generalist decision-making areas, and whether improvements can transfer to tasks we have not been trained to do.
Mice quickly learn to discriminate between visual features and I will study their neural mechanisms of VPL. I will monitor and manipulate neural activity at different stages of learning to see how learning modifies responses in different visual and decision-making areas and test how these effects depend on the similarity of the visual features and task in the training context.
My research will reveal how we become experts on specific tasks, but also how learning can transfer to novel conditions.