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Susana T. L. Chung; Training to improve temporal processing of letters benefits reading speed for people with central vision loss. Journal of Vision 2021;21(1):14. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.1.14.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Reading is slow and difficult for many people with central vision loss. A previous study showed that the temporal threshold for letter recognition is a major factor limiting reading speed for people with central vision loss. Here, we asked whether the temporal threshold for letter recognition for people with central vision loss could be improved through training and, if so, whether that would benefit reading. Training consisted of six sessions (3000 trials) of recognizing letter trigrams presented at fixation. Trigrams were initially presented at a baseline temporal threshold that was decreased by 0.1 log step when observers’ letter recognition accuracies reached 80% or higher for four consecutive blocks. Before and after training, we measured observers’ visual acuity, preferred retinal locus for fixation, fixation stability, reading speeds using the rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) paradigm, the MNREAD Acuity Chart and 100-word passages, the baseline temporal threshold for letter recognition at 80% accuracy, and a visual-span profile. After training, the temporal threshold was decreased by 68%. This improvement was accompanied by a higher RSVP maximum reading speed (but no change in MNREAD and passage reading speeds) and a larger visual span. A mediation analysis showed that the relationship between the temporal threshold and RSVP maximum reading speed was mainly mediated by the information transfer rate (size of visual span/temporal duration). Our results showed that the temporal threshold for letter recognition is amenable to training and can improve RSVP reading speeds, offering a practical means to improve reading speed for people with central vision loss.
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