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Memory reactivation improves visual perception


Human perception thresholds can improve through learning. Here we report findings challenging the fundamental 'practice makes perfect' basis of procedural learning theory, showing that brief reactivations of encoded visual memories are sufficient to improve perceptual discrimination thresholds. Learning was comparable to standard practice-induced learning and was not due to short training per se, nor to an epiphenomenon of primed retrieval enhancement. The results demonstrate that basic perceptual functions can be substantially improved by memory reactivation, supporting a new account of perceptual learning dynamics.

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Figure 1: Improved discrimination thresholds following procedural memory reactivation.
Figure 2: Long-term retention.
Figure 3: Improvements not explained by primed enhanced retrieval or short training per se.


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We thank J. Herszage, H. Harris, and D. Sagi for their feedback on this work and Y. Bonneh for experimental programming. The study was supported by the I-CORE program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee and the ISF (grant 51/11).

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R.A.H., R.L.M., S.N., and N.C. designed the experiments. R.A.H., R.L.M., S.N., and N.C. collected the data. R.A.H., R.L.M., S.N., J.D.R., and N.C. analyzed the data. R.A.H., R.L.M., J.D.R., and N.C. wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Nitzan Censor.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Amar-Halpert, R., Laor-Maayany, R., Nemni, S. et al. Memory reactivation improves visual perception. Nat Neurosci 20, 1325–1328 (2017).

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