Using Detection or Identification Paradigms When Assessing Visual Development: Is a Shift in Paradigm Necessary?

J Vis. 2012 Jun 1;12(6):4. doi: 10.1167/12.6.4.

Abstract

Given the inherent difference in judgment required to complete visual detection and identification tasks, it is unknown whether task selection differentially affects visual performance as a function of development. The aim of the present study is therefore to systematically assess and contrast visual performance using these two types of paradigms in order to determine whether paradigm-contingent differences in performance exist across different periods of development. To do so, we assessed sensitivity to both luminance- and texture-defined stationary and dynamic gratings using both detection and identification paradigms. Results demonstrated a relatively unchanged pattern of performance from the school ages through adolescence, suggesting that sensitivity was not differentially affected by choice of paradigm as a function of development. However, when averaged across age groups, a paradigm-contingent difference in sensitivity was evidenced for dynamic, texture-defined gratings only; it was easier to detect the spatial location of the gratings compared with identifying the direction of their motion. Paradigm-contingent differences were not evidenced for luminance-defined stimuli (whether stationary or dynamic), or for stationary, texture-defined gratings. In general, visual performance measured using either detection or identification paradigms is comparable across ages, particularly when information is stationary and defined by more simple visual attributes, such as luminance. Therefore, the use of detection paradigms might be advantageous under most circumstances when assessing visual abilities of very young and/or clinical populations in order to minimize potential challenges not related to visual perception (i.e., attentional) in these populations. Finally, paradigm-contingent differences in performance specific to dynamic, texture-defined information will be discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology
  • Form Perception / physiology
  • Humans
  • Motion Perception / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / growth & development*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / growth & development*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult