We previously demonstrated that perceptual learning of Vernier discrimination, when paired with orientation learning at the same retinal location, can transfer completely to untrained locations (Wang, Zhang, Klein, Levi, & Yu, 2014; Zhang, Wang, Klein, Levi, & Yu, 2011). However, Hung and Seitz (2014) reported that the transfer is possible only when Vernier is trained with short staircases, but not with very long staircases. Here we ran two experiments to examine Hung and Seitz's conclusions. The first experiment confirmed the transfer effects with short-staircase Vernier training in both our study and Hung and Seitz's. The second experiment revealed that long-staircase training only produced very fast learning at the beginning of the pretraining session, but with no further learning afterward. Moreover, the learning and transfer effects differed insignificantly with a small effect size, making it difficult to support Hung and Seitz's claim that learning with long-staircase training cannot transfer to an untrained retinal location.
Location specific perceptual learning can transfer to a new location if the new location is trained with a secondary task that by itself does not impact the performance of the primary learning task (double training). Learning may also transfer to other locations when double training is performed at the same location. Here we investigated the mechanisms underlying double-training enabled learning and transfer with an external noise paradigm. Specifically, we measured the Vernier thresholds at various external noise contrasts before and after double training. Double training mainly vertically downshifts the TvC functions at the training and transfer locations, which may be interpreted as improved sampling efficiency in a linear amplifier model or a combination of internal noise reduction and external noise exclusion in a perceptual template model at both locations. The change of the TvC functions appears to be a high-level process that can be remapped from a training location to a new location after double training.