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Shigeaki Nishina, Aaron R. Seitz, Mitsuo Kawato, Takeo Watanabe; Effect of spatial distance to the task stimulus on task-irrelevant perceptual learning of static Gabors. Journal of Vision 2007;7(13):2. doi: 10.1167/7.13.2.
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It was previously shown that sensitivity improvements to a task-irrelevant motion direction can be obtained when it is presented in concurrence with observers' performance of an attended task (A. R. Seitz & T. Watanabe, 2003; T. Watanabe, J. E. Náñez, & Y. Sasaki, 2001). To test whether this task-irrelevant perceptual learning (TIPL) is specific for motion and to clarify the relationships between the observer's task and the resultant TIPL, we investigated the spatial profile of the sensitivity enhancement for a static task-irrelevant feature. During the training period, participants performed an attentionally demanding character identification task at one location, whereas subthreshold, static, Gabor patches, which were masked in noise, were presented at different locations in the visual field. Subjects' sensitivity to the Gabors was compared between the pre- and posttraining tests. First, we found that TIPL extends to learning of static visual stimuli. Thus, TIPL is not a specialized process to motion stimuli. As to the effect of spatial location, the largest improvement was found for the Gabors presented in closest proximity to the task. These data indicate that the learning of the task-irrelevant visual feature significantly depends on the task location, with a gradual attenuation according to the spatial distance between them. These findings give further insights into the mechanism of perceptual learning.
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