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Cherlyn J. Ng, Ramkumar Sabesan, Antoine Barbot, Martin S. Banks, Geunyoung Yoon; Suprathreshold Contrast Perception Is Altered by Long-term Adaptation to Habitual Optical Blur. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2022;63(11):6. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.63.11.6.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To investigate whether visual experience with habitual blur alters the neural processing of suprathreshold contrast in emmetropic and highly aberrated eyes.
A large stroke adaptive optics system was used to correct ocular aberrations. Contrast constancy was assessed psychophysically in emmetropic and keratoconic eyes using a contrast matching paradigm. Participants adjusted the contrasts of gratings at various spatial frequencies to match the contrast perception of a reference grating at 4 c/deg. Matching was done both with fully corrected and uncorrected ocular aberrations. Optical correction allowed keratoconus patients to perceive high spatial frequencies that they have not experienced for some time.
Emmetropic observers exhibited contrast constancy both with their native aberrations and when their aberrations were corrected. Keratoconus patients exhibited contrast constancy with their uncorrected, native optics but they did not exhibit constancy during adaptive optics correction. Instead. they exhibited striking underconstancy: they required more contrast at high spatial frequencies than the contrast of the 4-c/deg stimulus to make them seem to have the same contrast.
The presence of contrast constancy in emmetropes and keratoconus patients viewing with their native optics suggests that they have learned to amplify neural signals to offset the effects of habitual optical aberrations. The fact that underconstancy was observed in keratoconus patients when their optics were corrected suggests that they were unable to learn the appropriate neural amplification because they did not have experience with fine spatial detail. These results show that even adults can learn neural amplification to counteract the effects of their own optical aberrations.
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