Perceptual-learning evidence for separate processing of asynchrony and order tasks

Julia A. Mossbridge, Matthew B. Fitzgerald, Erin S. O'Connor, Beverly A. Wright*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Normal perception depends, in part, on accurate judgments of the temporal relationships between sensory events. Two such relative-timing skills are the ability to detect stimulus asynchrony and to discriminate stimulus order. Here we investigated the neural processes contributing to the performance of auditory asynchrony and order tasks in humans, using a perceptual-learning paradigm. In each of two parallel experiments, we tested listeners on a pretest and a posttest consisting of auditory relative-timing conditions. Between these two tests, we trained a subset of listeners ∼1 h/d for 6-8 d on a single relative-timing condition. The trained listeners practiced asynchrony detection in one experiment and order discrimination in the other. Both groups were trained at sound onset with tones at 0.25 and 4.0 kHz. The remaining listeners in each experiment, who served as controls, did not receive multihour training during the 8-10 d between the pretest and posttest. These controls improved even without intervening training, adding to evidence that a single session of exposure to perceptual tasks can yield learning. Most importantly, each of the two groups of trained listeners learned more on their respective trained conditions than controls, but this learning occurred only on the two trained conditions. Neither group of trained listeners generalized their learning to the other task (order or asynchrony), an untrained temporal position (sound offset), or untrained frequency pairs. Thus, it appears that multihour training on relative-timing skills affects task-specific neural circuits that are tuned to a given temporal position and combination of stimulus components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12708-12716
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 6 2006


  • Asynchrony
  • Auditory processing
  • Human perceptual learning
  • Order
  • Relative timing
  • Temporal perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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