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Xuan Huang, Hongjing Lu, Bosco S. Tjan, Yifeng Zhou, Zili Liu; Motion perceptual learning: When only task-relevant information is learned. Journal of Vision 2007;7(10):14. doi: 10.1167/7.10.14.
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The classic view that perceptual learning is information selective and goal directed has been challenged by recent findings showing that subthreshold and task-irrelevant information can induce perceptual learning. This study demonstrates a limit on task-irrelevant learning as exposure to suprathreshold task-irrelevant signals failed to induce perceptual learning. In each trial, two random-dot motion stimuli were presented in a two-alternative forced-choice task. Observers either decided which of the two contained a coherent motion signal (detection task), or whether the coherent motion direction was clockwise or counterclockwise relative to a reference direction (discrimination task). Whereas the exact direction of the coherent motion signal was irrelevant to the detection task, detection of the coherent motion signal was necessary for the discrimination task. We found that the detection trainees improved only their detection but not discrimination sensitivity, whereas the discrimination trainees improved both. Therefore, the importance of task relevance was demonstrated in both detection and discrimination learning. Furthermore, both detection and discrimination training along a single pedestal direction transferred to a broad range of pedestal directions. The profile of the discrimination transfer (as a function of pedestal direction) narrowed for the discrimination trainees.
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