Overview: Learning and Plasticity


Perceptual learning concerns all aspects of human sensory experience. When subjects practice sensory discrimination tasks, performance dramatically increases. In experiments on Vernier discrimination it was shown that resolution reaches values smaller than the size of retinal photoreceptors, a phenomenon called Hyperacuity.

Discrimination Tasks

Sensitivity Measurement


Usually, there is a high specifity of learning for the parameters of the stimulus material and the side conditions (timing, location variation, feedback etc.) used in experiments, and transfer to other stimulus conditions is relatively poor. While earlier research on perceptual learning has concentrated on the specifity of learning and its resemblance to the response characteristics of neurons found in distal layers of the visual system, later research has concentrated on the involvement of higher level visual functions, such as selection, control and learning guidance and the shaping of task and stimulus specific neural pathways due to training.[selected literature]

Aims and Scope

We especially focus the formation of sensory coding pathways due to discrimination training. Observations indicating that sensory mechanisms with new, training specific coding behaviour have evolved are

  • Change of psychophysical tuning functions obtained before and after discrimination training
  • Task and stimulus specific schemes of learning transfer observed after training
  • Differential improvement of coding efficiency for the trained set of conditions

Experiments are designed to contribute to these questions using a variety of spatial frequency discrimination, orientation discrimination and Vernier discrimination tasks.


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