February 2016
Volume 16, Issue 4
Open Access
OSA Fall Vision Meeting Abstract  |   February 2016
Stereopsis Development in Human Infants: Sensitivity to Relative Versus Absolute and Horizontal Versus Vertical Disparity Using Sweep SSVEPs
Author Affiliations
  • Holly E. Gerhard
    Stanford University
  • Anthony M. Norcia
    Stanford University
Journal of Vision February 2016, Vol.16, 21-22. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/16.4.13
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      Holly E. Gerhard, Anthony M. Norcia; Stereopsis Development in Human Infants: Sensitivity to Relative Versus Absolute and Horizontal Versus Vertical Disparity Using Sweep SSVEPs. Journal of Vision 2016;16(4):21-22. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/16.4.13.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Stereopsis is the primary cue underlying our ability to make fine depth judgments. In adults depth is perceived only for horizontal rather than vertical disparities, and depth discriminations are supported primarily by relative rather than absolute disparity. Although human infants begin to exhibit disparity responses between three and five months of age (Norcia & Gerhard, in press), it is not known how sensitivity profiles to the different types of disparity develop. Two possibilities are: 1) like adults, even young infants already rely primarily on relative and horizontal disparities, 2) infants are first sensitive to absolute disparities of either orientation and only later develop an adult-like reliance on relative and horizontal disparities. Here we use a sweep steady state visual evoked potential paradigm and dynamic random dot stereograms to measure disparity sensitivity in human infants (3–7 months) and in adults. The core conditions were: 1) a relative disparity sweep, 2) a sweep changing from absolute to relative disparity. Each condition was run with both vertical and horizontal disparities yielding four conditions total. Our results suggest that infants do not have the strong preference for horizontal over vertical disparities that adults do and do not demonstrate adult-like relative disparity responses. Our results are consistent with several behavioral studies showing that stereoacuity thresholds improve over an extended developmental course reaching beyond preschool, e.g. (Birch & Salomao, 1998; Ciner, Schanel-Klitsch, & Herzberg, 1996; Ciner, Schanel-Klitsch, & Scheiman, 1991).

Birch EE, Salomao S. 1998 Infant random dot stereoacuity cards Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus 35 2 86 [PubMed]
Ciner E.B., Schanel-Klitsch E., Herzberg C. 1996 Stereoacuity development: 6 months to 5 years. A new tool for testing and screening Optometry & vision science 73 1 43 [CrossRef]
Ciner E.B., Schanel-Klitsch E., Scheiman M. 1991 Stereoacuity development in young children Optometry & vision science 68 7 533 [CrossRef]
Norcia A.M., Gerhard H.E. in press Development of Three-Dimensional Perception in Human Infants Annu Rev Vis Sci 1
 A.M.N. and H.E.G. were supported by a grant from the US National Institutes of Health (EY018875). H.E.G. was additionally supported by a US National Institutes of Health T32 Vision Research Training grant.

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