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Foroogh Shamsi, Rong Liu, Cynthia Owsley, MiYoung Kwon; Identifying the Retinal Layers Linked to Human Contrast Sensitivity Via Deep Learning. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2022;63(2):27. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.63.2.27.
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Luminance contrast is the fundamental building block of human spatial vision. Therefore contrast sensitivity, the reciprocal of contrast threshold required for target detection, has been a barometer of human visual function. Although retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are known to be involved in contrast coding, it still remains unknown whether the retinal layers containing RGCs are linked to a person's contrast sensitivity (e.g., Pelli-Robson contrast sensitivity) and, if so, to what extent the retinal layers are related to behavioral contrast sensitivity. Thus the current study aims to identify the retinal layers and features critical for predicting a person's contrast sensitivity via deep learning.
Data were collected from 225 subjects including individuals with either glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, or normal vision. A deep convolutional neural network trained to predict a person's Pelli-Robson contrast sensitivity from structural retinal images measured with optical coherence tomography was used. Then, activation maps that represent the critical features learned by the network for the output prediction were computed.
The thickness of both ganglion cell and inner plexiform layers, reflecting RGC counts, were found to be significantly correlated with contrast sensitivity (r = 0.26 ∼ 0.58, Ps < 0.001 for different eccentricities). Importantly, the results showed that retinal layers containing RGCs were the critical features the network uses to predict a person's contrast sensitivity (an average R2 = 0.36 ± 0.10).
The findings confirmed the structure and function relationship for contrast sensitivity while highlighting the role of RGC density for human contrast sensitivity.
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