Functional magnetic resonance imaging of delay and trace eyeblink conditioning in the primary visual cortex of the rabbit

Michael J. Miller, Craig Weiss, Xiaomu Song, Gheorghe Iordanescu, John F. Disterhoft, Alice M. Wyrwicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The primary sensory cortices have been shown in recent years to undergo experience- and learning-related plasticity under a variety of experimental circumstances. In this study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in parallel with both delay and trace eyeblink conditioning to image the learning-related functional activation within the primary visual cortex (V1) of awake, behaving rabbits. We expected that the differing level of forebrain dependence between these two conditioning paradigms should produce a differential blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) functional response in V1. Our results showed a significant expansion of activated volume within V1, particularly early in learning, after training with the more cognitively demanding trace paradigm. In contrast, the simpler delay paradigm produced an increase in the magnitude of the BOLD response in activated voxels, but no significant change in activated volume. No accompanying learning-related changes were observed in the primary somatosensory cortex, which mediates the unconditioned stimulus. These results suggest that the recruitment of additional neurons within V1 is necessary to support the more demanding memory imposed by the trace interval. To our knowledge, this work is the first functional imaging study to compare directly trace and delay eyeblink conditioning in an animal model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4974-4981
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 7 2008


  • Eyeblink conditioning
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Rabbit
  • Visual cortex
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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