Young children exhibit poorer visual performance than adults due to immaturity of the fovea and of the fundamental processing of visual functions such as masking and crowding. Recent studies suggest that masking and crowding are closely related to the size of the fundamental processing unit—the perceptive field (PF). However, while it is known that the retina and basic visual functions develop throughout childhood, it is not clear whether and how changes in the size of the PF affect masking and crowding. Furthermore, no retinal and perceptual development data have been collected from the same cohort and time. Here we explored the developmental process of the PF and the basic visual functions. Psychophysical and imaging methods were used to test visual functions and foveal changes in participants ranging from 3–17 years old. Lateral masking, crowding and contrast sensitivity were tested using computerized tasks. Foveal measurements were obtained from spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (OCT). The children patterns below 6 years exhibited high crowding, while the expected facilitation was found only at a larger target-flanker distance than required for children above 6 years, who exhibited the typical adult. Foveal thickness and macular volume for the children below 6 years were significantly lower than for the older group. Significant correlation was found for contrast sensitivity, foveal thickness and macular volume with age and between contrast sensitivity and foveal thickness. Our data suggest that the developmental processes at the retina and visual cortex occur in the same age range. Thus, in parallel to maturation of the PF, which enables reduction in crowding, foveal development contributes to increasing contrast sensitivity.
|Issue number||8 August 2020|
|State||Published - Aug 2020|
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2020 Doron et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.