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Alicia Serrano, Ali Hashemi, Allison Sekuler, Patrick Bennett; Ruling out task difficulty in the context-generalization of texture perceptual learning. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):504. doi: 10.1167/17.10.504.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Perceptual learning in a texture identification task reflects improved sensitivity to diagnostic features. We have studied perceptual learning using orientation-filtered textures that contain identity-specific information in a horizontal orientation band (i.e., Target) and non-diagnostic information (i.e., Context) in a vertical orientation band. Using Target-alone or Target+Context textures as training stimuli in a 1-of-6 texture identification task, Hashemi et al. (VSS 2015) demonstrated that learning was significantly more difficult in the Target+Context condition. Interestingly, the more difficult condition produced greater context generalization (Hashemi et al., VSS 2016): Target+Context trained observers generalized learning to the same Targets alone (i.e., presented without Context), but Target-alone trained observers did not transfer their overall strong learning to the same Targets with Context. These results may reflect a difference in perceptual strategies: Target-alone textures can be identified using any visible pixel, while Target+Context textures require observers to learn the selective extraction of target information in a specific orientation band and ignore the context. However, identifying Target+Context stimuli was significantly more difficult than Target-alone textures, so it is possible that the asymmetry in context generalization is a by-product of task difficulty and/or the magnitude of learning during training. Here, we tested that idea by adjusting stimulus contrast to make identification of Target-alone textures as difficult as Target+Context textures. We found that equating task difficulty did not eliminate the difference in context generalization: Target+Context training improved identification of both Target+Context and Target-alone textures, but Target-alone training improved identification only of Target-alone textures. We conclude that context-generalizable learning reflects a perceptual strategy learned when observers have to distinguish diagnostic from non-diagnostic information, and is not simply a by-product of task difficulty.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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