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Y. Adini, Amos Wilkonsky, Roni Haspel, Misha Tsodyks, Dov Sagi; Perceptual learning in contrast discrimination: The effect of contrast uncertainty. Journal of Vision 2004;4(12):2. doi: 10.1167/4.12.2.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Performance in perceptual tasks improves with repetition (perceptual learning), eventually reaching a saturation level. Typically, when perceptual learning effects are studied, stimulus parameters are kept constant throughout the training and during the pre- and post-training tests. Here we investigate whether learning by repetition transfers to testing conditions in which the practiced stimuli are randomly interleaved during the post-training session. We studied practice effects with a contrast discrimination task, employing a number of training methods: (i) practice with a single, fixed pedestal (base-contrast), (ii) practice with several pedestals, and (iii) practice with several pedestals that included a spatial context. Pre- and post-training tests were carried out with the base contrast randomized across trials, under conditions of contrast uncertainty. The results showed that learning had taken place with the fixed pedestal method (i) and with the context method (iii), but only the latter survived the uncertainty test. In addition, we were able to identify a very fast learning phase in contrast discrimination that improved performance under uncertainty. We contend that learned tasks that do not pass the uncertainty test involve modification of decision strategies that require exact knowledge of the stimulus.
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