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Kenneth R. Alexander, Claire S. Barnes, Gerald A. Fishman, Joel Pokorny, Vivianne C. Smith; Contrast Sensitivity Deficits in Inferred Magnocellular and Parvocellular Pathways in Retinitis Pigmentosa. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2004;45(12):4510-4519. doi: 10.1167/iovs.04-0188.
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purpose. To define the contrast sensitivity deficits of patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) under testing conditions designed to emphasize threshold mediation by either the magnocellular (MC) or parvocellular (PC) pathway.
method. Contrast sensitivity was measured with spatially localized, narrow-band test patterns at peak spatial frequencies ranging from 0.25 to 8 cycles per degree (cpd), using a steady-pedestal paradigm (brief presentation of the test stimulus against a continuously presented luminance pedestal) and a pulsed-pedestal paradigm (simultaneous brief presentation of the test stimulus and luminance pedestal) to favor the MC and PC pathways, respectively. The contrast sensitivity functions of 12 patients with RP who had visual acuities ranging between 20/12.5 and 20/40 were compared to those of 10 visually normal, age-equivalent control observers.
results. Five of the patients with RP who had Snellen visual acuities better than 20/25 had contrast sensitivity functions that were within the normal limits at all spatial frequencies for both testing paradigms. The other seven patients with RP had reduced contrast sensitivities for both paradigms, with the greatest reduction in sensitivity occurring at the highest spatial frequency. Their contrast sensitivity deficits were equivalent for the steady- and pulsed-pedestal paradigms.
conclusions. As observed in previous studies, the degree of contrast sensitivity loss shown by the patients with RP was greatest at the highest stimulus spatial frequency. However, in comparison to prior studies of contrast discrimination in patients with RP, there was no evidence of a preferential contrast sensitivity loss within the MC pathway. This apparent discrepancy is attributed to differences in the test targets and psychophysical judgments that were used in the studies, which emphasizes the importance of task characteristics in evaluating relative deficits within the MC and PC processing streams in visual disorders.
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