Dr. Milen Radell, visiting professor in the department of psychology, co-authored Benefits of Fading in Perceptual Learning are Driven by More Than Dimensional Attention in PLoS One with colleagues from other institutions. Here is the abstract:
"Individuals learn to classify percepts effectively when the task is initially easy and then gradually increases in difficulty. Some suggest that this is because easy-to-discriminate events help learners focus attention on discrimination-relevant dimensions. Here, we tested whether such attentional-spotlighting accounts are sufficient to explain easy-to-hard effects in auditory perceptual learning. In two experiments, participants were trained to discriminate periodic, frequency-modulated (FM) tones in two separate frequency ranges (300-600 Hz or 3000-6000 Hz). In one frequency range, sounds gradually increased in similarity as training progressed. In the other, stimulus similarity was constant throughout training. After training, participants showed better performance in their progressively trained frequency range, even though the discrimination-relevant dimension across ranges was the same. Learning theories that posit experience-dependent changes in stimulus representations and/or the strengthening of associations with differential responses, predict the observed specificity of easy-to-hard effects, whereas attentional-spotlighting theories do not. Calibrating the difficulty and temporal sequencing of training experiences to support more incremental representation-based learning can enhance the effectiveness of practice beyond any benefits gained from explicitly highlighting relevant dimensions."