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Perceptual training improves vision of the elderly
Date:11/22/2010

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Elderly adults can improve their vision with perceptual training, according to a study from the University of California, Riverside and Boston University that has implications for the health and mobility of senior citizens.

The study, "Perceptual learning, aging, and improved visual performance in early stages of visual processing," appears in the current online issue of the Journal of Vision. It was funded by a $3.5 million grant from the National Institute on Aging.

UCR researchers G. John Andersen, professor of psychology; Rui Ni, formerly a postdoctoral researcher; graduate student Jeffrey D. Bower; and Boston University psychology professor Takeo Watanabe conducted a series of experiments to determine whether repeated performance of certain visual tasks that are at the limits that one can see can improve the vision of adults older than 65.

"We found that with just two days of training, in one-hour sessions, with difficult stimuli resulted in older subjects seeing as well as younger college-age subjects," Andersen said. "The improvement was maintained for up to three months and the results were dependent on the location in the visual field where the stimuli were located suggesting that the brain changed in early levels of visual cortex." The visual cortex is the part of the brain that processes visual information.

Age-related changes in vision such as contrast sensitivity, dark adaptation, visual acuity, spatial vision, orientation, depth perception and motion perception have been substantiated in numerous previous studies. This is the first study that demonstrates that perceptual training can be used to improve vision among the elderly in the earliest levels of visual processing.

The researchers used a texture discrimination test in which the participants were presented with stimuli consisting of a letter embedded in the center of a field of horizontally oriented lines. In addition t
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Contact: Bettye Miller
bettye.miller@ucr.edu
951-827-7847
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert

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