Improvement in visual search with practice: mapping learning-related changes in neurocognitive stages of processing.
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Practice can improve performance on visual search tasks; the neural mechanisms underlying such improvements, however, are not clear. Response time typically shortens with practice, but which components of the stimulus-response processing chain facilitate this behavioral change? Improved search performance could result from enhancements in various cognitive processing stages, including (1) sensory processing, (2) attentional allocation, (3) target discrimination, (4) motor-response preparation, and/or (5) response execution. We measured event-related potentials (ERPs) as human participants completed a five-day visual-search protocol in which they reported the orientation of a color popout target within an array of ellipses. We assessed changes in behavioral performance and in ERP components associated with various stages of processing. After practice, response time decreased in all participants (while accuracy remained consistent), and electrophysiological measures revealed modulation of several ERP components. First, amplitudes of the early sensory-evoked N1 component at 150 ms increased bilaterally, indicating enhanced visual sensory processing of the array. Second, the negative-polarity posterior-contralateral component (N2pc, 170-250 ms) was earlier and larger, demonstrating enhanced attentional orienting. Third, the amplitude of the sustained posterior contralateral negativity component (SPCN, 300-400 ms) decreased, indicating facilitated target discrimination. Finally, faster motor-response preparation and execution were observed after practice, as indicated by latency changes in both the stimulus-locked and response-locked lateralized readiness potentials (LRPs). These electrophysiological results delineate the functional plasticity in key mechanisms underlying visual search with high temporal resolution and illustrate how practice influences various cognitive and neural processing stages leading to enhanced behavioral performance.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1152-14.2015
Publication InfoClark, Kait; Appelbaum, L Gregory; van den Berg, Berry; Mitroff, Stephen R; & Woldorff, Marty G (2015). Improvement in visual search with practice: mapping learning-related changes in neurocognitive stages of processing. J Neurosci, 35(13). pp. 5351-5359. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1152-14.2015. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/10641.
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Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Greg Appelbaum is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Duke University School of Medicine. He is a member of the Brain Stimulation Division of Psychiatry, where he directs the Human Performance Optimization lab (Opti Lab) and the Brain Stimulation Research Center. Dr. Appelbaum cor
Associate Research Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
NOTE: As of 8/1/2015 Dr. Mitroff and his lab will move to The George Washington University in Washington D.C. Lab focus: My lab has an active interest in visual search—how we find targets amongst distractors. With a dual goal of informing both academic theory and applied "real-world" performance, we explore various influences on search. We work with a variety of expert groups to understand the effects of experience and expertise, and to reveal individual differences in performa
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Dr. Woldorff's main research interest is in the cognitive neuroscience of attention. At each and every moment of our lives, we are bombarded by a welter of sensory information coming at us from a myriad of directions and through our various sensory modalities -- much more than we can fully process. We must continuously select and extract the most important information from this welter of sensory inputs. How the human brain accomplishes this is one of the core challenges of modern cognitive neuro
Alphabetical list of authors with Scholars@Duke profiles.