Broad bandwidth of perceptual learning in the visual system of adults with anisometropic amblyopia

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Mar 11;105(10):4068-73. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0800824105. Epub 2008 Mar 3.


Recent studies have demonstrated that training adult amblyopes in simple visual tasks leads to significant improvements of their spatial vision. One critical question is: How much can training with one particular stimulus and task generalize to other stimuli and tasks? In this study, we estimated the bandwidth of perceptual learning in teenage and adult observers with anisometropic amblyopia and compared it to that of normal observers. We measured and compared contrast sensitivity functions-i.e., sensitivity to sine-wave gratings of various spatial frequencies-before and after training at a single spatial frequency in teenagers and adults with and without amblyopia. We found that the bandwidth of perceptual learning in the amblyopic visual system is much broader than that of the normal visual system. The broader bandwidth, suggesting more plasticity and wider generalization in the amblyopic visual system, provides a strong empirical and theoretical basis for perceptual learning as a potential treatment for amblyopia.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amblyopia / physiopathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*