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Ilmari Kurki, Aapo Hyvärinen, Jussi Saarinen; Template optimization and transfer in perceptual learning. Journal of Vision 2016;16(10):16. doi: 10.1167/16.10.16.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
We studied how learning changes the processing of a low-level Gabor stimulus, using a classification-image method (psychophysical reverse correlation) and a task where observers discriminated between slight differences in the phase (relative alignment) of a target Gabor in visual noise. The method estimates the internal “template” that describes how the visual system weights the input information for decisions. One popular idea has been that learning makes the template more like an ideal Bayesian weighting; however, the evidence has been indirect. We used a new regression technique to directly estimate the template weight change and to test whether the direction of reweighting is significantly different from an optimal learning strategy. The subjects trained the task for six daily sessions, and we tested the transfer of training to a target in an orthogonal orientation. Strong learning and partial transfer were observed. We tested whether task precision (difficulty) had an effect on template change and transfer: Observers trained in either a high-precision (small, 60° phase difference) or a low-precision task (180°). Task precision did not have an effect on the amount of template change or transfer, suggesting that task precision per se does not determine whether learning generalizes. Classification images show that training made observers use more task-relevant features and unlearn some irrelevant features. The transfer templates resembled partially optimized versions of templates in training sessions. The template change direction resembles ideal learning significantly but not completely. The amount of template change was highly correlated with the amount of learning.
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