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Comparison of spatial contrast sensitivity between younger and older observers Dahl, Howard Stewart


Contrast sensitivity to vertically oriented grating patterns with a sinusoidal luminance profile were examined between groups of observers varying either in gender or age. For each observer at each of the seven spatial frequencies tested (.75, 1.5, 3, 6, 7.5, 10, 15 cyc/deg) threshold values were calculated for either ascending or descending trials as well as a combination of both. These threshold values were numerically transformed into sensitivity values and contributed to a group mean contrast sensitivity score for each spatial frequency. No significant effect of gender was found but younger observers (mean age=22.6 yrs.) exhibited significantly better contrast sensitivity than the older aged group (mean age=66.2 yrs.) for ascending trials at 3, 1.5 and .75 cyc/deg--the lowest spatial frequencies tested. Contrast sensitivity was also correlated with various measures. These findings were discussed in relation to the existing literature on age and spatial contrast sensitivity and since the machine used to examine the contrast sensitivity function (CSF) in this study utilized a laser interferometric method of stimulus generation, possible neurological changes with aging to explain this noted loss were also considered. Also discussed were various parameters that effect the CSF with a view toward explaining the disparate findings of various existing studies of age and the CSF.

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