Perceptual learning is a lifelong process. We begin by encoding information about the basic structure of the natural world and continue to assimilate information about specific patterns with which we become familiar. The specificity of the learning suggests that all areas of the cerebral cortex are plastic and can represent various aspects of learned information. The neural substrate of perceptual learning relates to the nature of the neural code itself, including changes in cortical maps, in the temporal characteristics of neuronal responses, and in modulation of contextual influences. Top-down control of these representations suggests that learning involves an interaction between multiple cortical areas.