Seeing what is not there shows the costs of perceptual learning

Aaron R. Seitz, Jose Nanez, Steven R. Holloway, Shinichi Koyama, Takeo Watanabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Perceptual learning is an improvement in one's sensory abilities after training and is thought to help us to better adapt to the sensory environment. Here, we show that perceptual learning also can lead to misperceptions, such that subjects actually perceive stimuli when none are physically presented. After learning, subjects not only showed enhanced performance when tested with the motion direction of the trained stimulus but also often reported seeing dots moving in the trained direction when no stimulus was displayed. We further show that these misperceptions are not attributable to a response bias. These results show that there are costs as well as benefits to perceptual learning and that performance enhancements for a specific feature also can be accompanied by misperceptions of the visual environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9080-9085
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jun 21 2005


  • Learning
  • Motion
  • Plasticity vision
  • Psychophysics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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