Barbara Dosher, UCI Distinguished Professor of cognitive sciences, has received a $1.14 million renewal grant from the National Eye Institute – part of the National Institutes of Health – to study how human perceptual learning operates and whether training can help overcome limitations in order to improve performance.

"Perceptual training has demonstrated a remarkable ability to enhance perception and perceptual judgments that are used in many of our day to day activities from the most basic of tasks such as seeing and listening to the more complex tasks and decisions based on perceptual inputs,” Dosher says.

"Only a small fraction of the complex, visual information in the world can be fully processed for recognition and action," she says. “The objective of the current research is to develop theoretical principles and training methods that will improve the amount and the generality of the benefits of visual training.”

Her long-term goal is to apply the improved methods of training tested in standard populations to improve training used in clinical applications, rehabilitation and the development of perceptual expertise.

Learning or practice improves our ability to perceive and remember what we see, she says, adding that there is some evidence that perceptual learning may be used to counteract functional losses in trained tasks.

With renewed financial support, she is continuing her career-long research into the topic using behavioral and computational methods to identify the effects of training in visual tasks and the distinct mechanisms of attention in improving performance limits. Funding began in September and will run through August 2018.

Dosher received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, San Diego and her master’s and doctorate degrees in experimental psychology from the University of Oregon. She was a professor of psychology at Columbia University for 15 years before she joined the faculty of UC Irvine in 1992. She served as dean of the School of Social Sciences 2002-13. She is a fellow of the Society for Experimental Psychologists and the American Psychological Society, and in 2011, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. She is a past recipient of the Howard Crosby Warren Medal and the UCI Distinguished Faculty Research Award, among the top honors bestowed by the Society of Experimental Psychologists and UCI Academic Senate, respectfully.


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