Constant training improves the capacities of human perception. Just as years of practice hone the senses of smell and taste of sommeliers, for example, so experienced radiologists are able to spot anomalies in X-rays at a glance.
Conventional training methods in the medical field of visual perception have been limited, however, as improvements have been obtainable only in the specific area of the field of vision that is being exercised – a phenomenon known as location specificity. If somebody is recovering from acute vision loss after an accident, for example, their eyesight has to be individually trained for various parts of the visual field during their rehabilitation programs, which is a laborious process. This is so because the visual system processes the world in a spatially ordered manner. “Neurons that process two neighboring areas in the visual field are also located in close proximity to each other in the brain,” explains Professor Zhuanghua Shi from the Chair of General and Experimental Psychology at LMU. “Consequently, visual training generally produces plasticity in a small group of neurons that cover a very specific location of the field of vision.”