Perceptual learning is commonly assumed to enhance perception through continuous attended sensory input. However, learning is generalizable to performance in untrained stimuli and tasks. Although previous studies have observed a possible generalization effect across tasks as a result of working memory (WM) training, comparisons of the contributions of WM training and continuous attended sensory input to perceptual learning generalization are still rare. Therefore, we compared which factors contributed most to perceptual generalization and investigated which skills acquired during WM training led to tactile generalization across tasks. Here, a Braille-like dot pattern matching n-back WM task was used as the WM training task, with four workload levels (0, 1, 2, and 3-back levels). A tactile angle discrimination (TAD) task was used as a pre- and posttest to assess improvements in tactile perception. Between tests, four subject groups were randomly assigned to four different workload n-back tasks to consecutively complete three sessions of training. The results showed that tactile n-back WM training could enhance TAD performance, with the 3-back training group having the highest TAD threshold improvement rate. Furthermore, the rate of WM capacity improvement on the 3-back level across training sessions was correlated with the rate of TAD threshold improvement. These findings suggest that continuous attended sensory input and enhanced WM capacity can lead to improvements in TAD ability, and that greater improvements in WM capacity can predict greater improvements in TAD performance. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Perceptual learning is not always specific to the trained task and stimuli. We demonstrate that both continuous attended sensory input and improved WM capacity can be used to enhance tactile angle discrimination (TAD) ability. Moreover, WM capacity improvement is important in generalizing the training effect to the TAD ability. These findings contribute to understanding the mechanism of perceptual learning generalization across tasks.
- continuous attended sensory input
- perceptual learning
- tactile angle discriminability
- tactile generalization
- working memory training
ASJC Scopus subject areas