The time course of learning a visual skill

Avi Karni, Dov Sagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


SEVERAL examples of experience-dependent perceptual improve-ment (perceptual learning) suggest that plasticity in specific neu-ronal loci could underlie the learning process For a basic visual discrimination task (using an optimal stimulus for 'automatic' pre-attentive texture segregation 7-10), discrete retinal input-dependent changes within a very early stage in the stream of visual processing were indicated as the locus of a large and consistent learning effect5. When do these changes occur? Here we report that except for a fast, rapidly saturating improvement early in the first practice session, performance was very stable within sessions. Indeed, observers showed little or no improvement until up to 8 hours after their last training session (latent phase). But large improvements occurred thereafter. Finally, there was almost no forgetting; what was gained was retained for at least 2-3 years. We conjecture that some types of perceptual experience trigger permanent neural changes in early processing stages of the adult visual system. These may take many hours to become functional.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-252
Number of pages3
Issue number6443
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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