Shape-specific perceptual learning in a figure-ground segregation task

Do Joon Yi, Marvin M. Chun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As shown in the classic Dalmatian dog demonstration, top-down knowledge aids figure-ground segregation. Such top-down knowledge is acquired through perceptual learning, and this study introduces a new paradigm to measure how learning affects figure-ground segregation. Subjects were required to detect symmetric dot patterns (targets) embedded in a random dot background field. The targets appeared on either the left or right side of fixation at a fixed eccentricity, and subjects reported the location of the target. Each subject was trained on two different dot patterns. To facilitate training at the beginning, bottom-up segregation cues were provided; targets were colored yellow amongst a background field of white dots. As learning proceeded across blocks, the color of the targets gradually changed to white, so that by the end of training, the dot field appeared homogeneous. During the testing phase, subjects were tested on both trained patterns and novel patterns using the homogenous displays. Subjects were significantly better at detecting trained patterns. This result allows us to study how the visual system acquires top-down visual knowledge to facilitate figure-ground segregation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63a
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by NIH Grant EY014193 to M.M.C. and by NIH Grant RO1 MH071615-01 to I.R.O.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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