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Int J Neurosci. 1995;80(1-4):181-201.

Contrast-dependent responses in the human visual system: childhood through adulthood.

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Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


Visual evoked potentials (VEPs) to temporal modulation of spatial patterns, recorded from humans ranging in age from 4-42 years, demonstrated that contrast-dependent responses exist in early childhood and change dramatically throughout childhood. Bright or dark isolated-check stimuli were used to emphasize contributions from ON or OFF pathways to the VEP. (ON and OFF pathways constitute one major pair of parallel subsystems, which process brightness [positive-contrast] and darkness [negative-contrast] information, respectively.) The developmental effects observed for each pathway were similar in magnitude and time course, suggesting maturation of a common physiological mechanism dependent on spatial contrast. Children's responses were more variable and larger than those of adults, and exhibited a relative phase lag. In addition, we recorded transient VEPs to a conventional contrast-reversing checkerboard pattern. The latency of the major positive wave (P100) was found to decrease, while the latency of the initial positive wave (P60) was found to increase, with increasing age. We propose a vector-summation model, which posits a relative decrease in cortical excitation with increasing age, to explain our major findings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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