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Dev Psychobiol. 2005 Apr;46(3):163-83.

Multiple sensitive periods in human visual development: evidence from visually deprived children.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada.


Psychophysical studies of children deprived of early visual experience by dense cataracts indicate that there are multiple sensitive periods during which experience can influence visual development. We note three sensitive periods within acuity, each with different developmental time courses: the period of visually-driven normal development, the sensitive period for damage, and the sensitive period for recovery. Moreover, there are different sensitive periods for different aspects of vision. Relative to the period of visually driven normal development, the sensitive period for damage is surprisingly long for acuity, peripheral vision, and asymmetry of optokinetic nystagmus, but surprisingly short for global motion. A comparison of results from unilaterally versus bilaterally deprived children provides insights into the complex nature of interactions between the eyes during normal visual development.

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