Fast Perceptual Learning in Visual Hyperacuity
In many different spatial discrimination tasks, such as in determining the sign of the offset in a vernier stimulus, the human visual system exhibits hyperacuity-level performance by evaluating spatial relations with the precision of a fraction of a photoreceptor"s diameter. We propose that this impressive performance depends in part on a fast learning process that uses relatively few examples and occurs at an early processing stage in the visual pathway. We show that this hypothesis is plausible by demonstrating that it is possible to synthesize, from a small number of examples of a given task, a simple (HyperBF) network that attains the required performance level. We then verify with psychophysical experiments some of the key predictions of our conjecture. In particular, we show that fast timulus-specific learning indeed takes place in the human visual system and that this learning does not transfer between two slightly different hyperacuity tasks.