Perceptual learning of detection of textures in noise
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We examined whether the effects of practice on visual detection are stimulus specific and whether practice alters response bias. Eighty-four subjects performed yes-no detection of band-limited noise patterns (textures) in two levels of external noise, on two consecutive days. On day 2, one-half of the observers switched to novel textures. Texture contrast was varied on signal-present trials using the method of constant stimuli. The signal was present on 50% of the trials. We measured d', detection thresholds, and two measures of response criterion: a global criterion that was based on sensitivity at all signal levels (Jones et al., 2015) and a local criterion computed at a hit rate of 70% or 80% (Wenger & Rasche, 2006). Performance improved for both groups on day 2, indicating that improvement transferred to novel textures. Increases in d' were associated with a decrease in false alarms across days. The global criterion became less liberal and became more optimal (i.e., less biased) with practice; however, this effect was small and was not statistically significant in all conditions. The local criterion measure also became slightly less liberal with practice in most conditions, becoming more or less optimal depending on the hit rate at which it was computed. Overall, the effects of practice on sensitivity in a visual detection task generalized to novel patterns. In addition, we found that practice had relatively small effects on response criterion, and the precise effects on response bias differed between global and local measures of criterion.
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