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Vision Res. 2010 Feb 22;50(4):368-74. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2009.08.024. Epub 2009 Aug 27.

Decoupling location specificity from perceptual learning of orientation discrimination.

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State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China.


Perceptual learning of orientation discrimination is reported to be precisely specific to the trained retinal location. This specificity is often taken as evidence for localizing the site of orientation learning to retinotopic cortical areas V1/V2. However, the extant physiological evidence for training improved orientation turning in V1/V2 neurons is controversial and weak. Here we demonstrate substantial transfer of orientation learning across retinal locations, either from the fovea to the periphery or amongst peripheral locations. Most importantly, we found that a brief pretest at a peripheral location before foveal training enabled complete transfer of learning, so that additional practice at that peripheral location resulted in no further improvement. These results indicate that location specificity in orientation learning depends on the particular training procedures, and is not necessarily a genuine property of orientation learning. We suggest that non-retinotopic high brain areas may be responsible for orientation learning, consistent with the extant neurophysiological data.

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