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Bianca Huurneman, F. Nienke Boonstra, Jeroen Goossens; Perceptual Learning in Children With Infantile Nystagmus: Effects on 2D Oculomotor Behavior. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(10):4229-4238. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.16-19555.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To determine changes in oculomotor behavior after 10 sessions of perceptual learning on a letter discrimination task in children with infantile nystagmus (IN).
Children with IN (18 children with idiopathic IN and 18 with oculocutaneous albinism accompanied by IN) aged 6 to 11 years were divided into two training groups matched on diagnosis: an uncrowded training group (n = 18) and a crowded training group (n = 18). Target letters always appeared briefly (500 ms) at an eccentric location, forcing subjects to quickly redirect their gaze. Training occurred twice per week for 5 consecutive weeks (3500 trials total). Norm data and test-retest values were collected from children with normal vision (n = 11). Outcome measures were: nystagmus characteristics (amplitude, frequency, intensity, and the expanded nystagmus acuity function); fixation stability (the bivariate contour ellipse area and foveation time); and saccadic eye movements (latencies and accuracy) made during a simple saccade task and a crowded letter-identification task.
After training, saccadic responses of children with IN improved on the saccade task (latencies decreased by 14 ± 4 ms and gains increased by 0.03 ± 0.01), but not on the crowded letter task. There were also no training-induced changes in nystagmus characteristics and fixation stability. Although children with normal vision had shorter latencies in the saccade task (47 ± 14 ms at baseline), test-retest changes in their saccade gains and latencies were almost equal to the training effects observed in children with IN.
Our results suggest that the improvement in visual performance after perceptual learning in children with IN is primarily due to improved sensory processing rather than improved two-dimensional oculomotor behavior.
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