Adult Amblyopes May Benefit from Perceptual Learning

by Dr. Janet

in Sensory Integration,Visual Enhancement Therapy

WEDNESDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) — People with amblyopia have broader bandwidth of perceptual learning in their visual system than people with normal vision, suggesting greater plasticity and wider generalization in this population, according to research released online March 3 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Chang-Bing Huang, of the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhui, China, and colleagues analyzed data from 10 teenagers and adults with unilateral anisometropic amblyopia and 21 with normal or corrected normal vision; the latter participants were put into two control groups. The researchers provided training at a single spatial frequency and measured sensitivity to sinewave gratings of various spatial frequencies before and after the training.

For amblyopic participants, training improved visual acuities in affected and fellow eyes, but not in the control groups. For selected members in the amblyopic group and one control group who had significant performance improvement at the training frequency, the bandwidth of perceptual learning was very different: the average full bandwidth was 4.04±0.63 octaves in the amblyopic group and only 1.40±0.30 octaves for the normal observers.

“We suggest re-evaluating the conventional wisdom for treating amblyopes: that passing the critical period results in a fully (though erroneously) developed visual system that is immune to therapeutic modifications. The current study, together with several others, demonstrates that the adult amblyopic visual system remains remarkably plastic, and perceptual learning could lead to substantial improvements of spatial vision in adult amblyopia,” the authors conclude.

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