June 2007
Volume 7, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   June 2007
Covert attention strengthens, speeds and maintains perceptual learning
Author Affiliations
  • Anna Marie Giordano
    New York University, Department of Psychology
  • Marisa Carrasco
    New York University, Department of Psychology, and New York University, Center for Neural Science
  • Abby Rosenbaum
    New York University, Department of Psychology
Journal of Vision June 2007, Vol.7, 49. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/7.9.49
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      Anna Marie Giordano, Marisa Carrasco, Abby Rosenbaum; Covert attention strengthens, speeds and maintains perceptual learning. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):49. https://doi.org/10.1167/7.9.49.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Goal: Covert attention improves discriminability and accelerates the rate of visual information processing (Carrasco & McElree, 2001). In a perceptual learning task in which observers trained with neutral and attention trials simultaneously, we observed that exogenous attention initially led to higher discriminability and faster processing. In addition to this benefit, attention showed stronger perceptual learning (Carrasco, Giordano & Looser, VSS). Here, we ask: Is perceptual learning enhanced when observers train in a new task with or without attention? To isolate and compare these effects we trained observers either in an attention or in a neutral condition and assessed the effects using a speed-accuracy trade-off (SAT) procedure.

Methods: Observers performed a conjunction (orientation x spatial frequency) discrimination task in which a cue preceded a target presented with 7 distracters at 8 isoeccentric locations. Half the observers were exposed to a neutral cue condition, which provided no information regarding the target location, whereas the other observers participated in the attention cue condition, which indicated the target location. A response tone prompted observers to respond after various lags (40–1500 ms). Observers completed 5 consecutive sessions (1/day), then completed 3 sessions of a transfer task in which the identity of the target and one of the distracters was switched. Finally, observers performed the original task for 2 more sessions (target and distracter were switched back).

Results & Conclusion: For both discriminability and processing speed, attention showed greater perceptual learning than the neutral condition in all stages: the initial original task, transfer task, and return-to-original task. When switching from original to transfer and then back to the original task, attention exhibits a reduced cost in temporal dynamics, and learning continues to increase in discriminability. These results indicate that attention strengthens, speeds and maintains the effects of perceptual learning.

Giordano, A. M. Carrasco, M. Rosenbaum, A. (2007). Covert attention strengthens, speeds and maintains perceptual learning [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 7(9):49, 49a, http://journalofvision.org/7/9/49/, doi:10.1167/7.9.49.
 NIH EY016200-01A2

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