Sensory stimuli become easier to detect or distinguish with practice. It is generally assumed that the task-relevant stimulus dimension becomes increasingly more salient as a result of attentively performing the task at a level that is neither too easy nor too difficult. However, here we show improved auditory frequency discrimination following training with physically identical tones that were impossible to discriminate. We also show that learning transfers across tone frequencies and across modalities: training on a silent visuospatial computer game improved thresholds on the auditory discrimination task. We suggest that three processes are necessary for optimal perceptual learning: sensitization through exposure to the stimulus, modality- and dimension-specific attention, and general arousal.