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Exp Aging Res. 1987 Autumn;13(3):145-9.

Selective attenuation in brightness for brief stimuli and at low intensities supports age-related transient channel losses.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Syracuse University, New York 13244-2340.


A brightness estimation experiment was conducted on 10 old (ages 60 to 77) and 10 young (ages 22 to 27) volunteers. Participants were introduced to magnitude estimation by scaling the lengths of line stimuli, after which they dark adapted for 10 minutes. Stimuli for brightness estimation were presented binocularly via a free-viewing system and consisted of circular flashes of 2 degrees. Stimuli covered a 3 log unit range of luminance levels in 0.5 log unit steps, and 3 durations (10, 100, 1000 msec). Linear regression analysis yielded dual-branched functions with a low intensity segment which was significantly steeper in slope than the high intensity segment. The slope for the older group was significantly less steep than that of the younger observers only at the low intensity segment. Findings with respect to stimulus duration showed a significantly attenuated slope for the old as compared to the young group only at 10 msec. The results extend previous threshold results to suprathreshold levels, and are consistent with an hypothesis of a selective loss of transient channels with age.

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