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M. Vilayphonh, C. Cavézian, L. Laloum, L. Watier, M. De Agostini, S. Chokron; Visuo-attentional Abilities in Healthy Children Compared to Children with Ophthalmologic Disorders. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):2896.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous studies suggest that peripheral visual alteration could modify visual cognition. One can assume that an early decrease in visual acuity (i.e., related to peripheral damage in childhood) could lead to visuospatial cognitive disorders. Moreover, it has been shown that these cognitive impairments could underlie specific learning disabilities such as difficulties in written language. The goal of the current study was to explore visuo-attentional skills (e.g., visual scanning strategies, visual memory and visual processing) in children with ophthalmologic disorders.
106 right-handed children (28 patients; 78 healthy controls), aged from 4 to 8, with normal or corrected-to-normal vision, performed six visuospatial tasks, including three cancellation tasks (Teddy Bear, Bell, and the Corkum tests), visuospatial working memory tasks (Borel-Maisonny symbol orientation task, shape and letter matching tasks), and a visual discrimination task (the Embedded Figures Test). The patients were diagnosed with either a simple strabismus or a strabismus associated with another ophthalmologic disorder.
Healthy controls performed better than patients in the Teddy bear, Triangle, T2 Corkum cancellation task, Embedded Figures Test. Age played an important role for the Triangle, T2 Corkum, Embedded Figures Test, and symbol orientation tasks where the oldest group showed better results than the youngest children.
This study gives information regarding visuo-attentional development in a large sample of healthy children. Our results highlight that visuo-attentional abilities are not optimal at 4 years old but indeed improve at least until 8 years. Yet, in ophthalmologic children, despite having corrected-to-normal vision, a long-lasting impaired visuo-attentional skill is observed. These findings suggest that attention and spatial skills training could be proposed in young children with corrected vision before formal reading education.
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