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Less is more: latent learning is maximized by shorter training sessions in auditory perceptual learning.

Molloy K, Moore DR, Sohoglu E, Amitay S - PLoS ONE (2012)

Bottom Line: The time course and outcome of perceptual learning can be affected by the length and distribution of practice, but the training regimen parameters that govern these effects have received little systematic study in the auditory domain.Between-session improvements were inversely correlated with performance; they were largest at the start of training and reduced as training progressed.In a second experiment we found no additional longer-term improvement in performance, retention, or transfer of learning for a group that trained over 4 sessions (∼4 hr in total) relative to a group that trained for a single session (∼1 hr).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Medical Research Council Institute of Hearing Research, Nottingham, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT

Background: The time course and outcome of perceptual learning can be affected by the length and distribution of practice, but the training regimen parameters that govern these effects have received little systematic study in the auditory domain. We asked whether there was a minimum requirement on the number of trials within a training session for learning to occur, whether there was a maximum limit beyond which additional trials became ineffective, and whether multiple training sessions provided benefit over a single session.

Methodology/principal findings: We investigated the efficacy of different regimens that varied in the distribution of practice across training sessions and in the overall amount of practice received on a frequency discrimination task. While learning was relatively robust to variations in regimen, the group with the shortest training sessions (∼8 min) had significantly faster learning in early stages of training than groups with longer sessions. In later stages, the group with the longest training sessions (>1 hr) showed slower learning than the other groups, suggesting overtraining. Between-session improvements were inversely correlated with performance; they were largest at the start of training and reduced as training progressed. In a second experiment we found no additional longer-term improvement in performance, retention, or transfer of learning for a group that trained over 4 sessions (∼4 hr in total) relative to a group that trained for a single session (∼1 hr). However, the mechanisms of learning differed; the single-session group continued to improve in the days following cessation of training, whereas the multi-session group showed no further improvement once training had ceased.

Conclusions/significance: Shorter training sessions were advantageous because they allowed for more latent, between-session and post-training learning to emerge. These findings suggest that efficient regimens should use short training sessions, and optimized spacing between sessions.

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Schema of different time courses for learning.Lines represent different hypothetical learning curves in situations where between- and within-session changes are combined in different ways.
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pone-0036929-g001: Schema of different time courses for learning.Lines represent different hypothetical learning curves in situations where between- and within-session changes are combined in different ways.

Mentions: Remarkably different time courses have been observed for perceptual learning. Improvements are often apparent while training (within-session learning [1], [8], [9]; Fig. 1, green line), but can sometimes occur during a latent period after training has finished (between-session learning [2], [7], [10], [11]; Fig. 1, red line). Within- and between-session learning probably represent two different processes, as they can be disrupted independently [12] and show differences in retention [13]. They also appear to have different electrophysiological correlates [13]–[15]. Both types of learning can also occur on the same task [16]–[18] (Fig. 1, blue line). However, neither of two previous studies that varied the number of trials within sessions, while controlling the total amount of practice, reported both forms of learning: Aberg et al. [1] showed only within-session learning in a visual experiment, while Wright & Sabin [2] showed only between-session learning in the auditory domain. Thus, the effect of varying the training regimen on a task that displays both learning types is currently undocumented. Moreover, neither study assessed how well learning was retained once practice had ceased, so the effect of training distribution on long term benefits is unclear.


Less is more: latent learning is maximized by shorter training sessions in auditory perceptual learning.

Molloy K, Moore DR, Sohoglu E, Amitay S - PLoS ONE (2012)

Schema of different time courses for learning.Lines represent different hypothetical learning curves in situations where between- and within-session changes are combined in different ways.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3351401&req=5

pone-0036929-g001: Schema of different time courses for learning.Lines represent different hypothetical learning curves in situations where between- and within-session changes are combined in different ways.
Mentions: Remarkably different time courses have been observed for perceptual learning. Improvements are often apparent while training (within-session learning [1], [8], [9]; Fig. 1, green line), but can sometimes occur during a latent period after training has finished (between-session learning [2], [7], [10], [11]; Fig. 1, red line). Within- and between-session learning probably represent two different processes, as they can be disrupted independently [12] and show differences in retention [13]. They also appear to have different electrophysiological correlates [13]–[15]. Both types of learning can also occur on the same task [16]–[18] (Fig. 1, blue line). However, neither of two previous studies that varied the number of trials within sessions, while controlling the total amount of practice, reported both forms of learning: Aberg et al. [1] showed only within-session learning in a visual experiment, while Wright & Sabin [2] showed only between-session learning in the auditory domain. Thus, the effect of varying the training regimen on a task that displays both learning types is currently undocumented. Moreover, neither study assessed how well learning was retained once practice had ceased, so the effect of training distribution on long term benefits is unclear.

Bottom Line: The time course and outcome of perceptual learning can be affected by the length and distribution of practice, but the training regimen parameters that govern these effects have received little systematic study in the auditory domain.Between-session improvements were inversely correlated with performance; they were largest at the start of training and reduced as training progressed.In a second experiment we found no additional longer-term improvement in performance, retention, or transfer of learning for a group that trained over 4 sessions (∼4 hr in total) relative to a group that trained for a single session (∼1 hr).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Medical Research Council Institute of Hearing Research, Nottingham, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT

Background: The time course and outcome of perceptual learning can be affected by the length and distribution of practice, but the training regimen parameters that govern these effects have received little systematic study in the auditory domain. We asked whether there was a minimum requirement on the number of trials within a training session for learning to occur, whether there was a maximum limit beyond which additional trials became ineffective, and whether multiple training sessions provided benefit over a single session.

Methodology/principal findings: We investigated the efficacy of different regimens that varied in the distribution of practice across training sessions and in the overall amount of practice received on a frequency discrimination task. While learning was relatively robust to variations in regimen, the group with the shortest training sessions (∼8 min) had significantly faster learning in early stages of training than groups with longer sessions. In later stages, the group with the longest training sessions (>1 hr) showed slower learning than the other groups, suggesting overtraining. Between-session improvements were inversely correlated with performance; they were largest at the start of training and reduced as training progressed. In a second experiment we found no additional longer-term improvement in performance, retention, or transfer of learning for a group that trained over 4 sessions (∼4 hr in total) relative to a group that trained for a single session (∼1 hr). However, the mechanisms of learning differed; the single-session group continued to improve in the days following cessation of training, whereas the multi-session group showed no further improvement once training had ceased.

Conclusions/significance: Shorter training sessions were advantageous because they allowed for more latent, between-session and post-training learning to emerge. These findings suggest that efficient regimens should use short training sessions, and optimized spacing between sessions.

Show MeSH