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C. Shawn Green, Florian Kattner, Max H. Siegel, Daniel Kersten, Paul R. Schrater; Differences in perceptual learning transfer as a function of training task. Journal of Vision 2015;15(10):5. doi: 10.1167/15.10.5.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
A growing body of research—including results from behavioral psychology, human structural and functional imaging, single-cell recordings in nonhuman primates, and computational modeling—suggests that perceptual learning effects are best understood as a change in the ability of higher-level integration or association areas to read out sensory information in the service of particular decisions. Work in this vein has argued that, depending on the training experience, the “rules” for this read-out can either be applicable to new contexts (thus engendering learning generalization) or can apply only to the exact training context (thus resulting in learning specificity). Here we contrast learning tasks designed to promote either stimulus-specific or stimulus-general rules. Specifically, we compare learning transfer across visual orientation following training on three different tasks: an orientation categorization task (which permits an orientation-specific learning solution), an orientation estimation task (which requires an orientation-general learning solution), and an orientation categorization task in which the relevant category boundary shifts on every trial (which lies somewhere between the two tasks above). While the simple orientation-categorization training task resulted in orientation-specific learning, the estimation and moving categorization tasks resulted in significant orientation learning generalization. The general framework tested here—that task specificity or generality can be predicted via an examination of the optimal learning solution—may be useful in building future training paradigms with certain desired outcomes.
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