The Ohio State University
Infant contrast sensitivity: a critical immaturity in infant visual sensory processing
Infant visual sensory processing is immature in many ways, but there are two immaturities that critically limit infant visual performance. One is the anatomical immaturity of the infant fovea, and the other is the very low level of infant contrast sensitivity. In this talk, I will review the psychophysical evidence that these limitations are critical. This will include evidence that infant color vision, Vernier acuity, and stereopsis are all close to the adult values, once the contrast sensitivity difference between infants and adults is taken into account. Next, I will present psychophysical evidence that infant contrast sensitivity is low because of very large amounts of linear sensory noise in the ascending visual pathway. Particularly, I will present evidence that infant psychophysical visual performance is not limited by infant inattention. Finally, I will describe a new clinical test that will allow the eye doctor to determine, in a single measurement, the level of contrast sensitivity of an infant patient.