Limited transfer of visual skill in orientation discrimination to locations treated by pre-testing and subliminal exposure

Vision Res. 2018 Feb;143:103-116. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2017.06.018. Epub 2017 Dec 8.


Substantial transfer of perceptual skill learning can be achieved across large distances in the visual field by a brief pre-test, training-plus-exposure, or a double-training paradigm (Xiao et al., 2008; Zhang, Xiao, et al., 2010; Zhang, Zhang, et al., 2010). Additionally, subliminal exposure has been shown to be beneficial for subsequent perceptual learning. Here, we tested the generalization of orientation discrimination learning from a fully trained location towards four other test locations, either in the same or opposite hemifield as the training location, which each were subjected to a different type of pre-conditioning. In one test location, there was brief pre-testing in the first session. Two other locations were stimulated by masked stimuli similar or identical to concurrently presented stimuli in the training location. In the fourth test location, no stimuli were presented during training. Generalization of training to test locations was measured in the session immediately following the completion of training in the training location. Moreover, to test the robustness of transfer, training was continued in all four test locations. The experiment as a whole consisted of 15 sessions of orientation discrimination learning at the training location, followed by 15 sessions of training in the test locations. We found only limited generalization from the trained to the test locations. Performance in pre-tested and stimulated test locations showed a small advantage compared to the unstimulated test location. However, this advantage disappeared within a few sessions of further training in the test locations.

Keywords: Masked exposure; Orientation discrimination; Pre-test; Skill learning; Transfer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orientation
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Transfer, Psychology / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult