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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2005 Apr;15(2):154-60.

Perceptual learning: specificity versus generalization.

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Department of Human Neurobiology, Argonnenstr. 3, D28211 Bremen, Germany.


Perceptual learning improves performance on many tasks, from orientation discrimination to the identification of faces. Although conventional wisdom considered sensory cortices as hard-wired, the specificity of improvement achieved through perceptual learning indicates an involvement of early sensory cortices. These cortices might be more plastic than previously assumed, and both sum-potential and single cell recordings indeed demonstrate plasticity of neuronal responses of these sensory cortices. However, for learning to be optimally useful, it must generalize to other tasks. Further research on perceptual learning should therefore, in my opinion, investigate first, the conditions for generalization of training-induced improvement, second, its use for teaching and rehabilitation, and third, its dependence on pharmacological agents.

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