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Aging Clin Exp Res. 2019 May;31(5):705-716. doi: 10.1007/s40520-018-1018-6. Epub 2018 Aug 28.

Second-order visual sensitivity in the aging population.

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McGill Vision Research, Department Ophthalmology, McGill University, Montreal, PQ, Canada.
CAS Key Laboratory of Brain Function and Diseases, School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, People's Republic of China.
State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Science, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, People's Republic of China.
McGill Vision Research, Department Ophthalmology, McGill University, Montreal, PQ, Canada.


Most visual and cognitive functions are affected by aging over the lifespan. In this study, our aim was to investigate the loss in sensitivity to different classes of second-order stimuli-a class of stimuli supposed to be mainly processed in extrastriate cortex-in the aging population. These stimuli will then allow one to identify specific cortical deficit independently of visibility losses in upstream parts of the visual pathway. For this purpose, we measured the sensitivity to first-order stimuli and second-order stimuli: orientation-modulated, motion-modulated or contrast-modulated as a function of spatial frequency in 50 aged participants. Overall, we observed a sensitivity loss for all classes of stimuli, but this loss differentially affects the three classes of second-order stimuli tested. It involves all modulation spatial frequencies in the case of motion modulation, but just high modulation spatial frequencies in the case of contrast- and orientation modulations. These observations imply that aging selectively affects the sensitivity to second-order stimuli depending on their type. Since there is evidence that these different second-order stimuli are processed in different regions of extrastriate cortex, this result may suggest that some visual cortical areas are more susceptible to aging effects than others.


Aging; Contrast; Modulation; Motion; Orientation; Second order; qCSF

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