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Curr Biol. 2009 Dec 29;19(24):2081-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.10.060. Epub 2009 Dec 3.

Human perceptual learning by mental imagery.

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  • 1Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Perceptual learning is learning to perceive. For example, a radiologist is able to easily identify anomalies in medical images only after extended training. Theoretical and psychophysical studies [1-12] suggest that such improvements of performance are accomplished by neural synaptic changes driven by the repetitive presentation of stimuli. Here, we demonstrate that an equally reliable improvement can also occur in the absence of physical stimulation. Imagining the crucial part of a bisection stimulus was sufficient for successful perceptual learning. Hence, the neural processes underlying perceptual learning, which are usually assumed to be primarily dependent on stimulus processing, can be equally based on mentally generated signals.

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