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The role of stimulus comparison in human perceptual learning: Effects of distractor placement

Dwyer, Dominic M. ORCID:, Mundy, Matthew Edward and Honey, Robert Colin ORCID: 2011. The role of stimulus comparison in human perceptual learning: Effects of distractor placement. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes 37 (3) , pp. 300-307. 10.1037/a0023078

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Within-subjects procedures were used to assess the influence of stimulus comparison on perceptual learning in humans. In Experiment 1, participants received intermixed (A, A′, A, A′,…) or blocked (B, B,…, B′, B′,…) exposure to pairs of similar female faces. In a subsequent same/different discrimination task, participants were more accurate when the test involved A and A′ than when it involved B and B′ (or novel faces: C and C′). This perceptual learning effect was reduced by placing a visual distractor (*: either another face or a checkerboard) between successive presentations of the faces during the exposure stage (e.g., A – * – A′). The attenuation of the intermixed versus blocked difference was particularly marked when faces were used as the distractor. In Experiment 2, this reduction in perceptual learning was more marked when * was positioned between the pairs of intermixed faces (i.e., A – * – A′) than when it preceded and succeeded those faces (i.e., * – A – A′ – *). These results provide the first direct evidence that the opportunity to compare stimuli plays a causal role in supporting perceptual learning. They also support the specific view that perceptual learning reflects an interaction between a short-term habituation process, that ordinarily biases processing away from the frequently presented common elements and toward their less frequently presented unique elements, and a long-term representational process that reflects this bias.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Publisher: American Psychological Association
ISSN: 1939-2184
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2022 12:53

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