Exposure to temporal variability promotes subsequent adaptation to new temporal regularities

Orit Shdeour*, Noam Tal-Perry, Moshe Glickman, Shlomit Yuval-Greenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Noise is intuitively thought to interfere with perceptual learning; However, human and machine learning studies suggest that, in certain contexts, variability may reduce overfitting and improve generalizability. Whereas previous studies have examined the effects of variability in learned stimuli or tasks, it is hitherto unknown what are the effects of variability in the temporal environment. Here, we examined this question in two groups of adult participants (N = 40) presented with visual targets at either random or fixed temporal routines and then tested on the same type of targets at a new nearly-fixed temporal routine. Findings reveal that participants of the random group performed better and adapted quicker following a change in the timing routine, relative to participants of the fixed group. Corroborated with eye-tracking and computational modeling, these findings suggest that prior exposure to temporal variability promotes the formation of new temporal expectations and enhances generalizability in a dynamic environment. We conclude that noise plays an important role in promoting perceptual learning in the temporal domain: rather than interfering with the formation of temporal expectations, noise enhances them. This counterintuitive effect is hypothesized to be achieved through eliminating overfitting and promoting generalizability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105695
StatePublished - Mar 2024


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1960/19


    • Eye-movements
    • Generalization
    • Regularities
    • Temporal expectation
    • Visual perception


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