, Volume 201, Issue 3, pp 441-451
Date: 10 Nov 2009

Differential rates of consolidation of conceptual and stimulus learning following training on an auditory skill

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Abstract

Training-induced improvements on perceptual skills can be attributed to at least two learning types: learning of general aspects of the trained condition (conceptual learning) and learning of specific feature values of the stimulus used in training (stimulus learning). Here we asked whether conceptual and stimulus learning on interaural time difference (ITD) discrimination emerge along different time courses. Conceptual learning was clearly evident 10 h after training, when performance on a target ITD condition was equivalent following training on that condition or on a non-target condition differing only in the stimulus, and was better in both cases than immediately after training. In contrast, stimulus learning emerged 24 h after training. At that time, performance on the target ITD condition was better following target- than non-target training, due to a worsening in performance between 10 and 24 h after non-target training rather than from additional improvements over this time period after target training. Training amount influenced performance immediately, but not 10 or 24 h, after training. Thus, conceptual learning emerged before stimulus learning, and each manifested through different improvement trajectories many hours after training. These results suggest that on ITD discrimination, conceptual learning is consolidated earlier, and with different behavioral consequences, than stimulus learning.