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Visual Perceptual Learning and Its Specificity and Transfer:
A New Perspective

Cong Yu

Department of Psychology and Peking-Tsinghua Center for Life Sciences
Peking University


Visual perceptual learning is known to be location and orientation specific, and is thus assumed to reflect the neuronal plasticity in the early visual cortex. However, in recent studies we created “Double training” and “TPE” procedures to demonstrate that these “fundamental” specificities can be decoupled from perceptual learning and that learning can completely transfer to a new location or orientation. We proposed a rule-based learning theory to reinterpret perceptual learning and its specificity and transfer: A high-level decision unit learns the rules of performing a visual task through training. However, the learned rules cannot be applied to a new location or orientation automatically because the decision unit cannot functionally connect to new visual inputs with sufficient strength because these inputs are likely suppressed by multi-session training and focused spatial/feature attention on trained location and orientation. It is double training and TPE training that reactivate these new inputs, so that the functional connections can be strengthened to enable rule application and learning transfer. I will report new experimental evidence that will provide further insights into the mechanisms underlying perceptual learning and its specificity and transfer.

Short Bio

1985年华东师范大学心理系本科毕业,1995年获University of Louisville实验心理学博士学位,1995年至2003年分别在University of Houston和University of California, Berkeley做博士后研究,2003年任中国科学院神经科学研究所研究员(百人计划),2006年任北京师范大学认知神经科学与学习国家重点实验室研究员,2008年任教育部长江学者特聘教授并获国家杰出青年基金,2012年起任北京大学心理系教授暨北京大学-清华大学联合生命科学中心高级研究员。目前研究受国家自然科学基金重点项目和北京大学-清华大学联合生命科学中心支持。

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Last updated: January 19, 2013