The Reverse Hierarchy Theory of Visual Perceptual Learning

Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8 (10):457-464 (2004)

Abstract

Perceptual learning can be defined as practice-induced improvement in the ability to perform specific perceptual tasks. We previously proposed the Reverse Hierarchy Theory as a unifying concept that links behavioral findings of visual learning with physiological and anatomical data. Essentially, it asserts that learning is a top-down guided process, which begins at high-level areas of the visual system, and when these do not suffice, progresses backwards to the input levels, which have a better signal-to-noise ratio. This simple concept has proved powerful in explaining a broad range of findings, including seemingly contradicting data. We now extend this concept to describe the dynamics of skill acquisition and interpret recent behavioral and electrophysiological findings.

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