Abstract

A sensory-sensory learning paradigm was used to measure neural changes in humans during acquisition of an association between an auditory and visual stimulus. Three multivariate partial least-squares (PLS) analyses of positron emission tomography data identified distributed neural systems related to (i) processing the significance of the auditory stimulus, (ii) mediating the acquisition of the behavioral response, and (iii) the spatial overlap between these two systems. The system that processed the significance of the tone engaged primarily right hemisphere regions and included dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, putamen, and inferior parietal and temporal cortices. Activity changes in left occipital cortex were also identified, most likely reflecting the learned expectancy of the upcoming visual event. The system related to behavior was similar to that which coded the significance of the tone, including dorsal occipital cortex. The PLS analysis of the concordance between these two systems showed substantial regional overlap, and included occipital, dorsolateral prefrontal, and limbic cortices. However, activity in dorsomedial prefrontal cortex was strictly related to processing the auditory stimulus and not to behavior. Taken together, the PLS analyses identified a system that contained a sensory-motor component (comprised of occipital, temporal association and sensorimotor cortices) and a medial prefrontallimbic component, that as a group simultaneously embodied the learning-related response to the stimuli and the subsequent change in behavior.