Experience with visual stimuli can improve their perceptual performance, a phenomenon termed visual perceptual learning (VPL). VPL has been found to improve metacognitive measures, suggesting increased conscious accessibility to the knowledge supporting perceptual decision-making. However, such studies have largely failed to control objective task accuracy, which typically correlates with metacognition. Here, using a staircase method to control this confound, we investigated whether VPL improves the metacognitive accuracy of perceptual decision-making. Across three days, subjects were trained to discriminate faces based on their high-level identity or low-level contrast. Holding objective accuracy constant across training days, perceptual thresholds decreased in both tasks, demonstrating VPL in our protocol. However, while metacognitive accuracy was not affected by face contrast VPL, it was decreased by face identity VPL. Our findings could be parsimoniously explained by a dual-stage signal detection theory-based model involving an initial perceptual decision-making stage and a second confidence judgement stage. Within this model, internal noise reductions for both stages accounts for our face contrast VPL result, while only first stage noise reductions accounts for our face identity VPL result. In summary, we found evidence suggesting that conscious knowledge accessibility was improved by the VPL of face contrast but not face identity.
- Conscious &unconscious memory
- Face perception and cognition
- Memory and learning
- Perceptual Learning