The essential role of stimulus temporal patterning in enabling perceptual learning

Abstract

Little is known about how temporal stimulus factors influence perceptual learning. Here we demonstrate an essential role of stimulus temporal patterning in enabling perceptual learning by showing that 'unlearnable' contrast and motion-direction discrimination (resulting from random interleaving of stimuli) can be readily learned when stimuli are practiced in a fixed temporal pattern. This temporal patterning does not facilitate learning by reducing stimulus uncertainty; further, learning enabled by temporal patterning can later generalize to randomly presented stimuli.

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Figure 1: Effects of stimulus roving and temporal patterning on perceptual learning of contrast and motion-direction discrimination.
Figure 2: The effects of pre-cueing on contrast and motion direction learning with stimulus roving.
Figure 3: Perceptual learning generalizes to unpracticed temporal conditions.

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Acknowledgements

We thank S.-G. He for helpful comments. This research was supported by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Shanghai Municipal Government and the US National Institutes of Health (R01-04776 and R01-01728).

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Correspondence to Cong Yu.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Kuai, S., Zhang, J., Klein, S. et al. The essential role of stimulus temporal patterning in enabling perceptual learning. Nat Neurosci 8, 1497–1499 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1546

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