Perceptual Learning


Perceptual learning is a crucial skill that forms the basis of complex cognitive processes such as language. Experts define the concept of perceptual learning as the ability of sensory organs to respond to specific stimuli. Such capabilities are improved through experience. Besides, perceptual learning occurs when sensory systems interact with one’s environment. To ascertain that perceptual learning has occurred, empirical evidence suggests that the changes are evident in behavior and physiology. Earlier, individuals believed that perceptual learning occurs in the early stages of development, but studies have indicated that the process occurs throughout the life cycle. An example of perceptual learning in humans is the ability to distinguish between different musical pitches.

Personally, I can attest that there are perceptual learning skills that I have developed over time. Besides, exposure and experiences to various phenomena have contributed to the existence of this concept. As mentioned by Caras & Sanes (2017), “Practice sharpens our perceptual judgments, a process known as perceptual learning. Although several brain regions and neural mechanisms have been proposed to support perceptual learning, formal causality tests are lacking. Furthermore, the temporal relationship between neural and behavioral plasticity remains uncertain.” One of the most crucial perceptual learning skills I possess is the ability to distinguish between the different musical pitches. This skill is considered perceptual learning and not memory because it is learned through exposure to various sound frequencies. Besides, Liu et al. (2017) asserted that distinguishing musical pitches requires the tonal encoding of pitch, and this can be obtained by playing specific songs daily.

In conclusion, perceptual learning is crucial as it enables human beings to respond to various stimuli. The procedure is enhanced through experience. Earlier, people believed that perceptual learning occurs during the early stages of life, but empirical evidence suggests otherwise, since human beings can learn through the interaction with the environment. An example of perceptual learning is differentiating between various musical pitches. It is considered a form of perceptual learning since it is obtained through experience, exposure to the musical environment, and repetition.


Caras, M. L., & Sanes, D. H. (2017). Top-down modulation of sensory cortex gates perceptual            learning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences114(37), 9972-9977.

Liu, F., Jiang, C., Francart, T., Chan, A. H., & Wong, P. C. (2017). Perceptual learning of pitch   direction in congenital amusia: evidence from Chinese speakers. Music Perception: An            Interdisciplinary Journal34(3), 335-351.

Wan, C., Chen, G., Fu, Y., Wang, M., Matsuhisa, N., Pan, S., … & Chen, X. (2018). An artificial sensory neuron with tactile perceptual learning. Advanced Materials30(30), 1801291.

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