Recent studies of the improvement of perceptual performance as a function of training - perceptual learning - have provided new insights into the neuronal substrates of this type of skill learning in the adult brain. Issues such as where in the brain, when and under what conditions practice-related changes occur are under investigation. The results of these studies suggest that a behaviorally relevant degree of plasticity is retained in the adult cortex, even within early, low-level representations in sensory and motor processing streams. The acquisition and retention of skills may share many characteristics with the functional plasticity subserving early-life learning and development. While the specificity of learning provides localization constraints, an important clue to the nature of the underlying neuronal changes is the time course of learning.
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