Repetition priming typically leads to a decrease in the activation of sensory cortical areas upon a second exposure to the same visual stimulus. This effect is thought to reflect more efficient or fluent re-processing of previously seen stimuli so that less neural activity is required. Fluent re-processing has been hypothesized to be a potential link from repetition priming to neural changes associated with visual expertise. To examine this potential connection, the neural correlates of priming were examined across eight stimulus repetitions using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Sizeable regions of bilateral ventral occipito-temporal cortex (including the fusiform gyrus) exhibited reduced responses to the second presentation of a stimulus. Most of these areas displayed no further reduction in response to subsequent repetitions of the same stimuli. Because expertise accrues over many exposures, these areas, while clearly involved in priming, do not exhibit an activity pattern consistent with the development of expertise. In contrast, an area in the right posterior fusiform gyms exhibited reductions in evoked response that grew in magnitude for stimulus repetitions from the second to the eighth presentations. This region exhibits a pattern of activity consistent with a gradual and cumulative enhancement of the fluency effect across trials, suggesting that it may mediate the link between priming and the development of visual expertise.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience