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Open Access Publications from the University of California

How effective is perceptual training? Evaluating two perceptual training methods on a difficult visual categorisation task


Perceptual training leads to improvements in a wide range of simple visual tasks. However, it is still unclear how effective it can be for more difficult visual tasks in real-world domains such as radiology. Is it possible to train people to the level of experts? If so, what method is best, and how much training is necessary? Over four training sessions, we trained medically naive participants to identify the degree of fatty liver tissue present in ultrasound images. We found that both COMPARISON and SINGLE-CASE perceptual training techniques resulted in significant post-training improvement, but that the SINGLE-CASE training was more effective. Whilst people showed rapid learning with less than one hour of training, they did not improve to the level of experts, and additional training sessions did not provide significant benefits beyond the initial session. This suggests that perceptual training could usefully augment, but not replace, the traditional rule-based training that medical students currently receive.

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