Improving vision in adult amblyopia by perceptual learning

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Apr 27;101(17):6692-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0401200101. Epub 2004 Apr 19.


Practicing certain visual tasks leads, as a result of a process termed "perceptual learning," to a significant improvement in performance. Learning is specific for basic stimulus features such as local orientation, retinal location, and eye of presentation, suggesting modification of neuronal processes at the primary visual cortex in adults. It is not known, however, whether such low-level learning affects higher-level visual tasks such as recognition. By systematic low-level training of an adult visual system malfunctioning as a result of abnormal development (leading to amblyopia) of the primary visual cortex during the "critical period," we show here that induction of low-level changes might yield significant perceptual benefits that transfer to higher visual tasks. The training procedure resulted in a 2-fold improvement in contrast sensitivity and in letter-recognition tasks. These findings demonstrate that perceptual learning can improve basic representations within an adult visual system that did not develop during the critical period.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amblyopia / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Visual Perception*