Influence of binocular deprivation on the development of attention

M. C. Goldberg, D. Maurer, T. L. Lewis, H. P. Brent

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Purpose. To examine the influence of binocular deprivation on the development of visual spatial attention in humans. We studied patients (aged 8 to 20 yrs) in whom bilateral congenital cataracts had prevented patterned visual input during infancy. Methods. We adapted two reaction tine tasks (Eriksen 1995; Posner, Nissen, & Ogden, 1978): 1. Detection - Subjects push a button as soon as they detect a target that is presented in a cued, miscued, or noncued peripheral location and that appears 100, 400, or 800 msec (SOAs) after a ct ntral cue; 2. Discriminative Choice - Subjects indicate which of two shapes appears in the periphery 400 msec after a central cue, with those shapes surrounded by compatible or incompatible distractors. On task 1, we compared 24 eyes of 12 patients (mean duration of deprivation = 5.8 mos; range =1.8 - 19.5 mos) to 3 groups of normass (N = 24 per grp) of comparable age at test. On task 2, we compared 16 eyes of 8 patients (mean duration of deprivation = 4.4 mos; range = 1.8 - 8.8 mos) to 16 age-matched controls. Results. On both tasks, patients treated before 4 months of age performed normally. On task 1, patients deprived longer than 4 months perfom ed normally when the cue appeared 100 or 400 msec before the target but, untille normals and children treated for shorter deprivation, they responded no more quickly on trials with correct cues than on those with miscues 800 msec before the target (ANOVA on Invalid - Valid RT, Group by SOA interaction, p < .05). On task 2, they were slowed more than age-matched controls by incompatible distractors (ANOVA on Incompatible - Compatible RT, Duration of Deprivation by Group intenction, p < .05). Conclusions. The ability to maintain focused attention is impaired after binocular deprivation lasting from birth past 4 months of age. These results conplement findings that the ability to covertly orient attention is first manifest around Imonths of age in normal infants (Johnson, Posner, & Rothhart, 1991) and provide further evidence that deprivation especially afferis abilities thar are immature at birth (Maurer, Lewis, & Brent, 1989).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S65
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Cite this

Goldberg, M. C., Maurer, D., Lewis, T. L., & Brent, H. P. (1997). Influence of binocular deprivation on the development of attention. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 38(4), S65.