Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Losing Your Edge

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Losing Your Edge

Article excerpt

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN

CENSOR & SAGI (2008). Benefits of efficient consolidation: Short training enables long-term resistance to perceptual adaptation induced by intensive testing. Vis Res, 48, 970.

In perceptual tasks, observers often seem more sensitive at the start of a block of trials than later on: They may be sharply attuned to the task for the first dozen or so trials, but then lose their edge. The speed with which this perceptual edge dulls suggests that the problem is not fatigue; rather, it seems as if vision actually alters in response to the experience of doing a task, becoming less sensitive. Censor and Sagi studied this effect using a texture discrimination task and made discoveries with interesting implications for how we do psychophysical experiments.

They first trained two groups of observers in the task over three sessions; each session contained either 12 trials, for one group, or 50 trials, for the other. These sessions were spaced: one presented in the morning, another that same evening, and a third the following morning. The observers in 12.trial blocks showed significantly better performance than those in 50-trial blocks, confirming that performance indeed improved with brief blocks. Censor and Sagi then brought each of the observers back into the lab at a date between 1 week and 9 months after the initial training to test them in three 50-trial blocks, spaced as during training. …

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