Perceptual learning in humans occurs when a person is repeatedly exposed to specific stimuli (information). Perceptual learning involves long lasting and amazing changes to the human perceptual system that incredibly improve one’s ability to respond to the environment. The mechanisms of perceptual learning include attention weighting, imprinting, differentiation, and unitization. With attention weighting, perception becomes adapted to tasks by increasing the attention paid to important dimensions and features. With imprinting, special receptors are developed that are specialized for specific stimuli. With differentiation, stimuli that were once indistinguishable become psychologically separated. With unitization, tasks that originally required detection of several components are accomplished by detecting a single construct.
As I read the part of the article about the value in letting students explore the basics of a new concept before giving them the rules and theory behind it, I started thinking about what this might look like on a practical level. Following are some examples I came up with.
Today’s New York Times (in the Science Times section, the reason my family buys the Times every Tuesday) is an interesting article on a very different approach to math learning: Brain Calisthenics Help Break Down Abstract Ideas, Researchers Say. The idea is that frequent presentation of examples and forcing rapid choices forces perceptual learning, even for what are normally seen as highly abstract symbolic tasks.
Perceptual learning involves relatively long-lasting changes to an organism's perceptual system that improve its ability to respond to its environment. Four mechanisms of perceptual learning are discussed: attention weighting, imprinting, differentiation, and unitization. By attention weighting, perception becomes adapted to tasks and environments by increasing the attention paid to important dimensions and features. By imprinting, receptors are developed that are specialized for stimuli or parts of stimuli. By differentiation, stimuli that were once indistinguishable become psychologically separated. By unitization, tasks that originally required detection of several parts are accomplished by detecting a single constructed unit representing a complex configuration. Research from cognitive psychology, psychophysics, neuroscience, expert/novice differences, development, computer science, and cross-cultural differences is described that relates to these mechanisms. The locus, limits, and applications of perceptual learning are also discussed.
Perceptual learning is the specific and relatively permanent modification of perception and behavior following sensory experience. It encompasses parts of the learning process that are independent from conscious forms of learning and involve structural and/or functional changes in primary sensory cortices. A familiar example is the treatment for a "lazy" or crossed eye. Covering the good eye causes gradual improvement in the weaker eye's cortical representations. If the good eye is patched too long, however, it learns to see less acutely.This book presents advances made in the last decade in this rapidly growing field. The first part examines neuronal changes caused by lesions or external influences. It discusses the effects of these changes on behavior and the extent to which plasticity in sensory systems is possible. Taking a broader view, the second part looks at how more conscious or systemic stimuli cause cortical changes. Clinical trials in which subjects are taught to recognize visual and auditory stimuli demonstrate the relationship between perceptual and cognitive learning. The final sections offer general models of perceptual learning and discuss the future of the field.
About the Author Manfred Fahle is Head of the Institute of Brain Research IV and the Unit for Human Neurobiology at the University of Bremen and a Visiting Professor at University College London, Institute of Ophthalmology.
The brain is a pattern-recognition machine, after all, and when focused properly, it can quickly deepen a person’s grasp of a principle, new studies suggest. Better yet, perceptual knowledge builds automatically: There’s no reason someone with a good eye for fashion or wordplay cannot develop an intuition for classifying rocks or mammals or algebraic equations, given a little interest or motivation. “When facing problems in real-life situations, the first question is always, ‘What am I looking at? What kind of problem is this?’ ” said Philip J. Kellman, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Any theory of how we learn presupposes perceptual knowledge — that we know which facts are relevant, that we know what to look for.”
The challenge for education, Dr. Kellman added, “is what do we need to do to make this happen efficiently?”
Perceptual learning in humans occurs when a person is repeatedly exposed to specific stimuli (information). Perceptual learning involves long lasting and amazing changes to the human perceptual system that incredibly improve one’s ability to respond to the environment.