Scientific Reports | 2019

Disentangling locus of perceptual learning in the visual hierarchy of motion processing



Visual perceptual learning (VPL) can lead to long-lasting perceptual improvements. One of the central topics in VPL studies is the locus of plasticity in the visual processing hierarchy. Here, we tackled this question in the context of motion processing. We took advantage of an established transition from component-dependent representations at the earliest level to pattern-dependent representations at the middle-level of cortical motion processing. Two groups of participants were trained on the same motion direction identification task using either grating or plaid stimuli. A set of pre- and post-training tests was used to determine the degree of learning specificity and generalizability. This approach allowed us to disentangle contributions from different levels of processing stages to behavioral improvements. We observed a complete bi-directional transfer of learning between component and pattern stimuli that moved to the same directions, indicating learning-induced plasticity associated with intermediate levels of motion processing. Moreover, we found that motion VPL is specific to the trained stimulus direction, speed, size, and contrast, diminishing the possibility of non-sensory decision-level enhancements. Taken together, these results indicate that, at least for the type of stimuli and the task used here, motion VPL most likely alters visual computation associated with signals at the middle stage of motion processing.

Volume 9
Pages None
DOI 10.1038/s41598-018-37892-x
Language English
Journal Scientific Reports

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