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Jeroen Goossens, F. Nienke Boonstra, Bianca Huurneman; Predictors of sensitivity to perceptual learning in children with infantile nystagmus. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(8):4702.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
We recently developed a perceptual learning paradigm, based on near-acuity letter and visuomotor training, for 6-11 year old children with infantile nystagmus (IN). This computerized training improved crowded and uncrowded visual acuity, stereopsis and reading but not fixation stability, saccade behaviour and nystagmus properties. This suggests that the vision improvements were primarily due to improved sensory processing rather than improved oculomotor behavior. However, not all children benefitted equally. Here we evaluate if this inter-individual variability can be explained by baseline acuity, diagnosis, age, training condition, and training joy.
36 children with IN (idiopathic IN: n=18; oculocutaneous albinism: n=18) were divided into a crowded (n=18), and an uncrowded training group (n=18) matched on age and diagnosis. Training consisted of 10 sessions spread over 5 weeks (3500 trials total). To test whether their experience affected learning, we asked them to rate training joy on a five-point smiley scale. Before and after training, a computerized single- and a crowded-letter discrimination task were presented. Baseline performance, age, diagnosis, training condition and training joy were entered as regression predictors of training-induced changes.
58% of the variance in single-letter acuity improvements was explained by baseline performance, age, diagnosis, training condition and training joy (F(7,24)=4.67, p<0.002). Age had a positive effect on training outcome (partial r=0.55); older children showed larger gains. Training joy had a positive impact in the uncrowded (partial r=0.67), but not in the crowded training group.56% of the variance in improvements on the crowded letter task was accounted for by baseline performance, age, diagnosis and training condition (F(7,26)=4.70, p<0.002). Children with idiopathic IN showed larger improvements than children with albinism. Training gains were positively related to initial performance in children with idiopathic IN (partial r=0.76), but not in children with albinism.
Our study is the first to demonstrate that baseline performance, age, diagnosis, training joy and training condition affect perceptual learning in children with IN. These results have practical implications, e.g., to include the child’s perspective on the training as a screening tool to select candidates in whom training will likely result in good outcomes.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2017 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Baltimore, MD, May 7-11, 2017.
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