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Bianca Huurneman, F. Nienke Boonstra, Jeroen Goossens; Predictors of Sensitivity to Perceptual Learning in Children With Infantile Nystagmus. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(10):4162-4172. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.17-21913.
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To identify predictors of sensitivity to perceptual learning on a computerized, near-threshold letter discrimination task in children with infantile nystagmus (idiopathic IN: n = 18; oculocutaneous albinism accompanied by IN: n = 18).
Children were divided into two age-, acuity-, and diagnosis-matched training groups: a crowded (n = 18) and an uncrowded training group (n = 18). Training consisted of 10 sessions spread out over 5 weeks (grand total of 3500 trials). Baseline performance, age, diagnosis, training condition, and perceived pleasantness of training (training joy) were entered as linear regression predictors of training-induced changes on a single- and a crowded-letter task.
An impressive 57% of the variability in improvements of single-letter visual acuity was explained by age, training condition, and training joy. Being older and training with uncrowded letters were associated with larger single-letter visual acuity improvements. More training joy was associated with a larger gain from the uncrowded training and a smaller gain from the crowded training. Fifty-six percent of the variability in crowded-letter task improvements was explained by baseline performance, age, diagnosis, and training condition. After regressing out the variability induced by training condition, baseline performance, and age, perceptual learning proved more effective for children with idiopathic IN than for children with albinism accompanied by IN. Training gains increased with poorer baseline performance in idiopaths, but not in children with albinism accompanied by IN.
Age and baseline performance, but not training joy, are important prognostic factors for the effect of perceptual learning in children with IN. However, their predictive value for achieving improvements in single-letter acuity and crowded letter acuity, respectively, differs between diagnostic subgroups and training condition. These findings may help with personalized treatment of individuals likely to benefit from perceptual learning.
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