May 18, 2021

Exogenous attention generalizes perceptual learning in adults with amblyopia

<p>Visual perceptual learning (VPL), or improved performance after practicing the same visual task, is a behavioral manifestation of the impressive neuroplasticity in the adult brain. However, its practical effectiveness is limited because improvements are often specific to the trained conditions and require significant time and effort. Thus, it is critical to understand the conditions that promote learning and its transfer. Covert spatial attention helps overcome VPL location and feature specificity in neurotypical adults, but whether it can for people with atypical visual development is unknown. Here we show that involuntary attention helps generalize learning beyond trained spatial locations in adults with amblyopia, an ideal population for investigation given their asymmetrically developed, but highly plastic, visual cortex. Our findings provide insight into the mechanisms underlying changes in neuro(a)typical brain plasticity after practice. Further, they reveal that attention can enhance the effectiveness of perceptual learning during rehabilitation of visual disorders.</p>
<p> bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience</p>
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