Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Induction of Auditory Perceptual Learning: Effects of Practice, Practice Breaks and Stimulus Exposure Alone
by Little, David Frank, Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2016, 110; 10193612
Abstract (Summary)

Perceptual abilities improve with training. I examined the circumstances under which auditory learning can last across days in three studies: (1) In order to persist across days, perceptual learning appears to require a sufficient amount of training per day, suggesting that multiple trials must integrate up to a learning threshold within a day to make a lasting memory. I report that a 30-minute rest break midway through an otherwise sufficient period of training disrupted learning on frequency discrimination and non-native phonetic classification, indicating that the integration process had decayed within this time period. This outcome is consistent with the idea that training trials are integrated in a transient memory store before they are consolidated en masse to form a memory that lasts across days. (2) While this learning threshold is typically reached through task practice, recent work also indicates that it can be attained through a combination of periods of practice and stimulus exposure alone. This combination can be effective even when neither experience generates learning on its own. The benefits of this combination regimen have been demonstrated for both fine-grained discrimination and speech learning. I report that they extend to learning on musical-interval discrimination, a non-speech task of practical relevance. (3) While the success of combining task practice and stimulus exposure alone indicates that these periods interact with each other, the time frame of this interaction is unknown. I report that this combination still yielded frequency-discrimination learning when task practice was separated from stimulus exposure by 24 hours, even though neither period yielded learning in isolation. This outcome raises the possibility that stimulus exposure alone reactivates some latent effect of task practice, such as declarative knowledge of the task procedure, that then interacts with the stimulus exposures to generate learning. Overall the results provide multiple indications that the effects of training trials—be it from periods of practice or exposure—do not have an independent, cumulative effect on behavior, but instead interact with one another to generate long-lasting learning.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wright, Beverly A.
Commitee: Nasir, Sazzad M., Reber, Paul J.
School: Northwestern University
Department: Communication Sciences and Disorders
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-B 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Audiology, Cognitive psychology
Keywords: Frequency discrimination, Memory consolidation, Music, Perceptual learning, Speech
Publication Number: 10193612
ISBN: 9781369447859
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