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Journal Article

Citation

Webb BS, Roach NW, McGraw PV. PLoS One 2007; 2(12): e1323.

Affiliation

Visual Neuroscience Group, School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom. bsw@psychology.nottingham.ac.uk

Copyright

(Copyright © 2007, Public Library of Science)

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0001323

PMID

18094748

PMCID

PMC2147046

Abstract

Performance on most sensory tasks improves with practice. When making particularly challenging sensory judgments, perceptual improvements in performance are tightly coupled to the trained task and stimulus configuration. The form of this specificity is believed to provide a strong indication of which neurons are solving the task or encoding the learned stimulus. Here we systematically decouple task- and stimulus-mediated components of trained improvements in perceptual performance and show that neither provides an adequate description of the learning process. Twenty-four human subjects trained on a unique combination of task (three-element alignment or bisection) and stimulus configuration (vertical or horizontal orientation). Before and after training, we measured subjects' performance on all four task-configuration combinations. What we demonstrate for the first time is that learning does actually transfer across both task and configuration provided there is a common spatial axis to the judgment. The critical factor underlying the transfer of learning effects is not the task or stimulus arrangements themselves, but rather the recruitment of commons sets of neurons most informative for making each perceptual judgment.


Language: en

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