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Vision Res. 2002 May;42(10):1249-58.

Perceptual learning of luminance contrast detection: specific for spatial frequency and retinal location but not orientation.

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Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK.


Performance of a wide range of simple visual tasks improves with practice. Here we ask whether such learning occurs for the fundamental visual task of luminance contrast detection. In two experiments we find that contrast sensitivity increases following extensive practice at detecting briefly presented sinusoidal luminance gratings and that learning is maintained after six months. Learning is spatial frequency tuned, specific to retinal location and can be specific to one eye, but is not selective for orientation. The selectivity of learning implies that it is based on plasticity in early visual, as opposed to central cognitive, processing mechanisms.

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