Our perceptual abilities significantly improve with practice. This phenomenon, known as perceptual learning, offers an ideal window for understanding use-dependent changes in the adult brain. Different experimental approaches have revealed a diversity of behavioral and cortical changes associated with perceptual learning, and different interpretations have been given with respect to the cortical loci and neural processes responsible for the learning. Accumulated evidence has begun to put together a coherent picture of the neural substrates underlying perceptual learning. The emerging view is that perceptual learning results from a complex interplay between bottom-up and top-down processes, causing a global reorganization across cortical areas specialized for sensory processing, engaged in top-down attentional control, and involved in perceptual decision making. Future studies should focus on the interactions among cortical areas for a better understanding of the general rules and mechanisms underlying various forms of skill learning.


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