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Publication Summary and Abstract

Spigler, G. and Wilson, S. P. (2017), Familiarization: A theory of repetition suppression predicts interference between overlapping cortical representations, PLoS ONE, 12(6), e0179306.

Repetition suppression refers to a reduction in the cortical response to a novel stimulus that results from repeated presentation of the stimulus. We demonstrate repetition suppression in a well established computational model of cortical plasticity, according to which the relative strengths of lateral inhibitory interactions are modified by Hebbian learning. We present the model as an extension to the traditional account of repetition suppression offered by sharpening theory, which emphasises the contribution of afferent plasticity, by instead attributing the effect primarily to plasticity of intra-cortical circuitry. In support, repetition suppression is shown to emerge in simulations with plasticity enabled only in intra-cortical connections. We show in simulation how an extended ‘inhibitory sharpening theory’ can explain the disruption of repetition suppression reported in studies that include an intermediate phase of exposure to additional novel stimuli composed of features similar to those of the original stimulus. The model suggests a re-interpretation of repetition suppression as a manifestation of the process by which an initially distributed representation of a novel object becomes a more localist representation. Thus, inhibitory sharpening may constitute a more general process by which representation emerges from cortical re-organisation.
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