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Front Psychol. 2012 Jul 5;3:226. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00226. eCollection 2012.

The rapid emergence of stimulus specific perceptual learning.

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  • 1School of Psychology, University of Nottingham Nottingham, UK.


Is stimulus specific perceptual learning the result of extended practice or does it emerge early in the time course of learning? We examined this issue by manipulating the amount of practice given on a face identification task on Day 1, and altering the familiarity of stimuli on Day 2. We found that a small number of trials was sufficient to produce stimulus specific perceptual learning of faces: on Day 2, response accuracy decreased by the same amount for novel stimuli regardless of whether observers practiced 105 or 840 trials on Day 1. Current models of learning assume early procedural improvements followed by late stimulus specific gains. Our results show that stimulus specific and procedural improvements are distributed throughout the time course of learning.


consolidation; generalization; identification; perceptual learning; specificity; time course; transfer

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