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WIREs Cogn Sci
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Perceptual learning

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Perceptual learning involves long‐term changes to perception due to practice or experience. While perceptual learning has been studied for over a century in philosophy and psychology, research into the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying perceptual learning remains an area of ongoing development. This review explores what perceptual learning is and how it occurs, with a focus on areas of controversy. It then turns to several current debates. First, it explores the debate as to whether such learning involves genuine perceptual change at all, rather than a change in action, attention, or decision‐making. Second, it questions the role that higher‐cognitive mechanisms, like attention, might play in perceptual learning. Does perceptual learning require attention, or can it occur through mere exposure in the absence of attention? Third, it examines a debate about what perceptual learning means for the perception–cognition divide. Does it blur the divide or preserve it? This article is categorized under: Philosophy > Psychological Capacities Psychology > Perception and Psychophysics Psychology > Learning
Stimuli from Gauthier and Tarr's () study on visual perception of complex patterns. Through training, subjects were able to learn to recognize Greebles' family and gender, and to identify individuals
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An illustration of the levels of cortical areas in reverse hierarchy theory from Ahissar and Hochstein (). Perceptual learning involves modification of neural processing at one of these levels. Easy tasks involve modification at the high level, where learning tends to transfer across contexts. More difficult tasks require modification at the low level, where learning is specific
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Stimuli from Goldstone and Steyvers (). Subjects were presented with faces that varied on two dimensions, A and B. Each dimension was formed by varying the proportions of two randomly chosen faces. As Dimension A increases, the face becomes more similar to Face 2 than Face 1 (and likewise for Dimension B)
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Psychology > Perception and Psychophysics
Psychology > Learning
Philosophy > Psychological Capacities

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