Adaptation decorrelates shape representations

Marcelo G. Mattar, Maria Olkkonen, Russell A. Epstein, Geoffrey K. Aguirre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perception and neural responses are modulated by sensory history. Visual adaptation, an example of such an effect, has been hypothesized to improve stimulus discrimination by decorrelating responses across a set of neural units. While a central theoretical model, behavioral and neural evidence for this theory is limited and inconclusive. Here, we use a parametric 3D shape-space to test whether adaptation decorrelates shape representations in humans. In a behavioral experiment with 20 subjects, we find that adaptation to a shape class improves discrimination of subsequently presented stimuli with similar features. In a BOLD fMRI experiment with 10 subjects, we observe that adaptation to a shape class decorrelates the multivariate representations of subsequently presented stimuli with similar features in object-selective cortex. These results support the long-standing proposal that adaptation improves perceptual discrimination and decorrelates neural representations, offering insights into potential underlying mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3812
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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