On the relationship between persistent delay activity, repetition enhancement and priming.
Human efficiency in processing incoming stimuli (in terms of speed and/or accuracy) is typically enhanced by previous exposure to the same, or closely related stimuli-a phenomenon referred to as priming. In spite of the large body of knowledge accumulated in behavioral studies about the conditions conducive to priming, and its relationship with other forms of memory, the underlying neuronal correlates of priming are still under debate. The idea has repeatedly been advanced that a major neuronal mechanism supporting behaviorally-expressed priming is repetition suppression, a widespread reduction of spiking activity upon stimulus repetition which has been routinely exposed by single-unit recordings in non-human primates performing delayed-response, as well as passive fixation tasks. This proposal is mainly motivated by the observation that, in human fMRI studies, priming is associated to a significant reduction of the BOLD signal (widely interpreted as a proxy of the level of spiking activity) upon stimulus repetition. Here, we critically re-examine a large part of the electrophysiological literature on repetition suppression in non-human primates and find that repetition suppression is systematically accompanied by stimulus-selective delay period activity, together with repetition enhancement, an increase of spiking activity upon stimulus repetition in small neuronal populations. We argue that repetition enhancement constitutes a more viable candidate for a putative neuronal substrate of priming, and propose a minimal framework that links together, mechanistically and functionally, repetition suppression, stimulus-selective delay activity and repetition enhancement.
Tartaglia, EM; Mongillo, G; Brunel, N
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