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Vis Neurosci. 2008 Sep-Dec;25(5-6):685-91. doi: 10.1017/S0952523808080826.

Does context or color improve object recognition in patients with low vision?

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Lab. Neurosciences Fonctionnelles & Pathologies, Université Lille, Nord de France, CHU Lille, CNRS, Lille, France.


Most studies on people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have been focused on investigations of low-level processes with simple stimuli like gratings, letters, and in perception of isolated faces or objects. We investigated the ability of people with low vision to analyze more complex stimuli like photographs of natural scenes. Fifteen participants with AMD and low vision (acuity on the better eye <20/200) and 11 normally sighted age-matched controls took part in the study. They were presented with photographs of either colored or achromatic gray level scenes in one condition and with photographs of natural scenes versus isolated objects extracted from these scenes in another condition. The photographs were centrally displayed for 300 ms. In both conditions, observers were instructed to press a key when they saw a predefined target (a face or an animal). The target was present in half of the trials. Color facilitated performance in people with low vision, while equivalent performance was found for colored and achromatic pictures in normally sighted participants. Isolated objects were categorized more accurately than objects in scenes in people with low vision. No difference was found for normally sighted observers. The results suggest that spatial properties that facilitate image segmentation (e.g., color and reduced crowding) help object perception in people with low vision.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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