Characterizing the mechanisms of improvement for position discrimination in adult amblyopia

J Vis. 2004 Jun 1;4(6):476-87. doi: 10.1167/4.6.7.


Adult amblyopes can improve positional acuity through practice; however, the neural mechanisms underlying this improvement are still not clear. In this study, seven adult amblyopes repeatedly practiced a position discrimination task in the presence of positional noise. We found that six of the seven showed systematic and significant improvements in position acuity that were both eye and orientation specific. Using a position-averaging model, we were able to parse the improvement in performance with practice into two factors: improvement in sampling efficiency and reduction of equivalent input noise. Three of the seven showed improved efficiency with no change in equivalent noise, two showed a significant reduction in equivalent noise with no change in efficiency, and one showed both improved efficiency and reduced equivalent noise. Interestingly, all observers showed substantial improvement in visual acuity, and one observer showed substantial improvement in stereoacuity. Three observers were also tested on a counting task, and all three improved after practicing positional discrimination. Our results reveal the mechanisms underlying perceptual learning in amblyopic vision, and may provide a basis for developing more effective and efficient strategies for the treatment of amblyopia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amblyopia / physiopathology*
  • Depth Perception / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise
  • Orientation
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*