Continuing support is requested for investigations of the neural bases and behavioral outcomes of visual expertise training with objects, focusing on comparisons between training protocols. The proposed experimental designs contrast with state-of-the-art neuroimaging training studies, which test the effects of one training procedure at a time, making it difficult to attribute expertise effects to any specific aspect of experience. Human subjects will be trained to acquire perceptual expertise with novel objects in various training conditions, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as well as psychophysical techniques will be used to measure expertise effects. The work is motivated by a theoretical framework, the process-map hypothesis, which proposes that differences in patterns of brain activity that are elicited automatically, in a task-independent manner, by object categories, reflect the tuning of object representations to the demands of training conditions. In the proposed investigations, we will develop new training procedures to address the following questions: 1) Can experience determine the visual areas recruited by an object category, independent of its geometry? 2) What are the effects of prior exposure to an object category, either during passive viewing or during perceptual learning, in the subsequent acquisition of perceptual expertise? 3) Can geometry interact with conceptual information learned about an object to constrain the effects of experience in the acquisition of expert skills? The planned experiments will begin to build a framework in which it will become possible to predict, based on specific aspects of a training situation (e.g., object geometry, set properties, training tasks, past exposure, non-visual conceptual knowledge), behavioral and neural effects of experience with objects.

Public Health Relevance

Visual expertise is part of many critical human activities, from face perception to reading, as well as the acquisition of the perceptual skills necessary in many careers. This project aims at understanding how different types of training change the visual system to allow expert performance. This knowledge may help develop better training protocols for various diseases, including dyslexia and visual agnosia.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Research Project (R01)
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Cognitive Neuroscience Study Section (COG)
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Wiggs, Cheri
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Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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McGugin, Rankin Williams; Van Gulick, Ana E; Tamber-Rosenau, Benjamin J et al. (2015) Expertise Effects in Face-Selective Areas are Robust to Clutter and Diverted Attention, but not to Competition. Cereb Cortex 25:2610-22
Ross, David A; Richler, Jennifer J; Gauthier, Isabel (2015) Reliability of composite-task measurements of holistic face processing. Behav Res Methods 47:736-43
Wong, Yetta Kwailing; Peng, Cynthia; Fratus, Kristyn N et al. (2014) Perceptual expertise and top-down expectation of musical notation engages the primary visual cortex. J Cogn Neurosci 26:1629-43
McGugin, Rankin Williams; Newton, Allen T; Gore, John C et al. (2014) Robust expertise effects in right FFA. Neuropsychologia 63:135-44
Gauthier, Isabel; McGugin, Rankin W; Richler, Jennifer J et al. (2014) Experience moderates overlap between object and face recognition, suggesting a common ability. J Vis 14:7
Ross, David A; McGugin, Rankin W; Gauthier, Isabel (2014) Heterogeneity of FFA responses or multiplexing? Trends Cogn Sci 18:171-2
Richler, Jennifer J; Gauthier, Isabel (2014) A meta-analysis and review of holistic face processing. Psychol Bull 140:1281-302
Richler, Jennifer J; Floyd, R Jackie; Gauthier, Isabel (2014) The Vanderbilt holistic face processing test: a short and reliable measure of holistic face processing. J Vis 14:
Van Gulick, Ana E; Gauthier, Isabel (2014) The perceptual effects of learning object categories that predict perceptual goals. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 40:1307-20
Chua, Kao-Wei; Richler, Jennifer J; Gauthier, Isabel (2014) Becoming a Lunari or Taiyo expert: learned attention to parts drives holistic processing of faces. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 40:1174-82

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