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Re: perceptual learning

Auditory perceptual learning an area of study that needs attention, but
it certainly hasn't been ignored.
This article will touch on a lot of the research before 1980.

Watson, Charles S. (1980). "Time course of auditory perceptual learning,
" Annal of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology Supp. 74 89, 96-102.

Watson has done a lot of study with tonal patterns in the 1970s which
are probably cited in the above article.

There's also a learning component in tasks of spectral shape
discrimination alias profile analysis. This is discussed in DM Green's
book "Profile Analysis" (1988, Oxford U.P., London) also in

Kidd, Mason and Green (1986) "Auditory profile analysis for irregular
spectra," J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 79, 1045-1053.

and in my dissertation

Sources of Variation in Profile Analysis: Individual Differences,
*Extended Training*, Roving Level, Component Spacing and Dynamic Contour
(1998) Indiana University.

Manuscripts are in review. One observation was that listeners do not
asymptote to the same level of performance. My summary went like this:

Extended training: The ability of listeners to discriminate differences
in spectral shape improved with practice. The rate of this learning
differed between individuals. The asymptotic level of performance
observed in these experiments differed substantially between listeners.

There's certainly a host of other related topics that could be and
probably have been studied especially with everyone's favorite complex
sound-- speech. The practicality here I think revolves around impaired
listeners learning new input via cochlear implants and hearing aids.
Learning to perceive and produce languages of course takes years.

Ward Drennan
MRC Institute for Hearing Research, Scottish Section
Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Queen Elizabeth Building
Glasgow G31 2ER  UK
Tel: (int'l) + 44 141 211 4856
Fax: (int'l) + 44 141 552 8411

-----Original Message-----
From: Srikantan Nagarajan <sri@doug.med.utah.edu>
Cc: Marina Rose <marina.rose@PHYSIOL.OX.AC.UK>
Date: Saturday, April 01, 2000 5:02 PM
Subject: Re: perceptual learning

>Dear list,
>An excellent question which summarizes some of my research goals and
>There certainly seems to be a lack of studies in auditory perceptual
>learning. Some of the earliest studies that I can think of are Massaro
>et al. on learning in backward masking (Perception and Psychophysics
>circa 1979?). More recently, Beverly Wright and colleagues (J.
>Neuroscience, 1999) published results on auditory temporal interval
>discrimination learning. She has also presented posters at ARO on
>learning of frequency discrimination, backward masking, and
>interaural-interval discrimination.
>It seems that most of these tasks are subject to some sort of learning
>effects. The characteristics of that learning are probably task
>specific. It appears that the learning is dependent on a heavy schedule
>of at least 900 trials a day and has both a fast and slow time course.
>The fast time course seems to take 1-2 sessions and the slower time
>course about 5-8 sessions. This is consistent with time courses of
>learning in both visual and somatosensory systems as well.
>To my knowledge, no one has done anything like the Karni or Strickgold
>et al. manipulations of REM sleep etc. with auditory perceptual
>I think that one reason learning has been ignored is that it just seems
>to make everyone asymptote to a similar threshold. i.e. high-threshold
>beginners learn a lot more than low-threshold performers. So, the
>process might look something like a regression to the mean. While that
>may indeed be the case, I believe that the characteristics of
>generalization to untrained stimulus conditions following learning are
>quite revealing about the mechanisms of processing and learning.
>Typically learning studies are done with naive subjects.
>I would be delighted to hear other comments on this topic from the more
>experienced folks in the list.
>Srikantan Nagarajan
>Assistant Professor
>Department of Bioengineering
>University of Utah, Salt Lake City