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Lucy Evans, Rebecca A. Champion, Simon K. Rushton, Daniela Montaldi, Paul A. Warren; Detection of scene-relative object movement and optic flow parsing across the adult lifespan. Journal of Vision 2020;20(9):12. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.9.12.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Moving around safely relies critically on our ability to detect object movement. This is made difficult because retinal motion can arise from object movement or our own movement. Here we investigate ability to detect scene-relative object movement using a neural mechanism called optic flow parsing. This mechanism acts to subtract retinal motion caused by self-movement. Because older observers exhibit marked changes in visual motion processing, we consider performance across a broad age range (N = 30, range: 20–76 years). In Experiment 1 we measured thresholds for reliably discriminating the scene-relative movement direction of a probe presented among three-dimensional objects moving onscreen to simulate observer movement. Performance in this task did not correlate with age, suggesting that ability to detect scene-relative object movement from retinal information is preserved in ageing. In Experiment 2 we investigated changes in the underlying optic flow parsing mechanism that supports this ability, using a well-established task that measures the magnitude of globally subtracted optic flow. We found strong evidence for a positive correlation between age and global flow subtraction. These data suggest that the ability to identify object movement during self-movement from visual information is preserved in ageing, but that there are changes in the flow parsing mechanism that underpins this ability. We suggest that these changes reflect compensatory processing required to counteract other impairments in the ageing visual system.
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