Learning to filter out visual distractors

Viktor Gál, Lajos R. Kozák, István Kóbor, Éva M. Bankó, John T. Serences, Zoltán Vidnyánszky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


When learning to master a visual task in a cluttered natural environment, it is important to optimize the processing of task-relevant information and to efficiently filter out distractors. However, the mechanisms that suppress task-irrelevant information are not well understood. Here we show that training leads to a selective increase in motion coherence detection thresholds for task-irrelevant motion directions that interfered with the processing of task-relevant directions during training. Furthermore, using functional magnetic resonance imaging we found that training attenuated neural responses associated with the task-irrelevant direction compared with the task-relevant direction in the visual cortical areas involved in processing of visual motion. The strongest suppression of functional magnetic resonance imaging responses to task-irrelevant motion information was observed in human area MT+. These findings reveal that perceptual learning leads to the suppression and efficient filtering of task-irrelevant visual information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1723-1731
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2009


  • Human
  • Motion processing
  • Neural plasticity
  • Perceptual learning
  • Visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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    Gál, V., Kozák, L. R., Kóbor, I., Bankó, É. M., Serences, J. T., & Vidnyánszky, Z. (2009). Learning to filter out visual distractors. European Journal of Neuroscience, 29(8), 1723-1731. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-9568.2009.06724.x