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Aaron Seitz; Moving beyond a binary view of specificity in perceptual learning. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):1422. doi: 10.1167/15.12.1422.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
A hallmark of modern perceptual learning is the nature to which learning effects are specific to the trained stimuli. Such specificity to orientation, spatial location and even eye of training (Karni and Sagi, 1991), has been used as psychophysical evidence of neural basis of learning. However, recent research shows that learning effects once thought to be specific depend on subtleties of the training procedure (Hung and Seitz, 2014) and that within even a simple training task that there are multiple aspects of the task and stimuli that are learned simultaneously (LeDantec, Melton and Seitz, 2012). Here, I present recent results my from my lab and others detailing some of the complexities of specificity and transfer and suggest that learning on any task involves a broad network of brain regions undergoing changes in representations, readout weights, decision rules, feedback processes, etc. However, importantly, that the distribution of learning across the neural system depends upon the fine details of the training procedure. I conclude with the suggestion that to advance our understanding of perceptual learning, the field must move towards understanding individual, and procedurally induced, differences in learning and how multiple neural mechanisms may together underlie behavioral learning effects.
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