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Perceptual learning of motion leads to faster flicker perception.

  • Author(s): Seitz, Aaron R
  • Nanez, Jose E
  • Holloway, Steve R
  • Watanabe, Takeo
  • et al.
Abstract

Critical flicker fusion thresholds (CFFT) describe when quick amplitude modulations of a light source become undetectable as the frequency of the modulation increases. The threshold at which CFF occurs has been shown to remain constant under repeated testing. Additionally, CFF thresholds are correlated with various measures of intelligence, and have been regarded by clinicians as a general measure of cortical processing capacity. For these reasons, CFF is used as a cognitive indicator in drug studies, as a measure of fatigue, and has been suggested as a diagnostic measure for various brain diseases. Here we report that CFFT increases dramatically in subjects who are trained with a motion-direction learning procedure. Control tasks demonstrate that CFFT changes are tightly coupled with improvements in discriminating the direction of motion stimuli, and are likely related to plasticity in low-level visual areas that are specialized to process motion signals. This plasticity is long-lasting and is retained for at least one year after training. Combined, these results show that CFFT relates to a specialized sensory process and bring into question that CFFT is a measure of high-level, or general, processes.

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