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Patrick J. Hibbeler, Dave Ellemberg, Aaron Johnson, Lynn A. Olzak; Does fixation account for perceptual learning in visual hyperacuity discrimination tasks? . Journal of Vision 2009;9(14):42. doi: 10.1167/9.14.42.
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Perceptual learning in visual discrimination can be observed by the ability to perform harder discriminations. It has been established that perceptual learning can be associated with different mechanisms: learning to perform the task (Anderson, Psychological Review, 94, 192, 1987); specific strategies/knowledge of the stimuli that allow an observer to attend to an optimal area of information (Doane, Alderton, Sohn & Pellegrino, Journal of Experimental Psychology, 22, 1218, 1996) and actual changes in how the stimuli are perceived/processed (Gibson, 1969; Goldstone, Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 585, 1998). It has been reported that observers can learn to fixate on informative objects and ignore non-informative objects in a scene, to increase their efficiency in experimental paradigms such as masking or visual search (Haider & Frensch, Journal of Experimental Psychology, 25, 172, 1999; Gál, Kozák, Kóbor, Bankó, Serences & Vidnyánszky, Cognitive Neuroscience, 29, 1723, 2009). However, fixation has not been monitored in visual hyperacuity discriminations of Gabor patches during training. Eye fixations were monitored during observer training for spatial frequency or orientation discrimination of suprathreshold sinusoidal gratings. The results show that observers “fine-tune” their fixations as the task increases in difficulty and as they gain experience (i.e. number of trials). Observers started out with wider variations in fixation distance, which decreases with trials. Performance was also negatively correlated with fixation variance; when the task is difficult observers appear to be searching for areas of fixation that provide the information necessary for them to complete the task. These results suggest that observers modify their fixation strategies depending on the task and its difficulty. YIA
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