Retrograde Interference in Perceptual Learning of a Peripheral Hyperacuity Task
by Shao-Chin Hung, Aaron R. Seitz
Consolidation, a process that stabilizes memory trace after initial acquisition, has been studied for over a century. A number of studies have shown that a skill or memory must be consolidated after acquisition so that it becomes resistant to interference from new information. Previous research found that training on a peripheral 3-dot hyperacuity task could retrogradely interfere with earlier training on the same task but with a mirrored stimulus configuration. However, a recent study failed to replicate this finding. Here we address the controversy by replicating both patterns of results, however, under different experimental settings. We find that retrograde interference occurs when eye-movements are tightly controlled, using a gaze-contingent display, where the peripheral stimuli were only presented when subjects maintained fixation. On the other hand, no retrograde interference was found in a group of subjects who performed the task without this fixation control. Our results provide a plausible explanation of why divergent results were found for retrograde interference in perceptual learning on the 3-dot hyperacuity task and confirm that retrograde interference can occur in this type of low-level perceptual learning. Furthermore, our results demonstrate the importance of eye-movement controls in studies of perceptual learning in the peripheral visual field.
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