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Doris I. Braun, Alexander C. Schütz, Karl R. Gegenfurtner; Age effects on saccadic suppression of luminance and color. Journal of Vision 2021;21(6):11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.6.11.
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Saccadic eye movements modulate visual perception: they initiate and terminate high acuity vision at a certain location in space, but before and during their execution visual contrast sensitivity is strongly attenuated for 100 to 200 ms. Transient perisaccadic perceptual distortions are assumed to be an important mechanism to maintain visual stability. Little is known about age effects on saccadic suppression, even though for healthy adults other major age-related changes are well documented, like a decrease of visual contrast sensitivity for intermediate and high spatial frequencies or an increase of saccade latencies. Here, we tested saccadic suppression of luminance and isoluminant chromatic flashes in 100 participants from eight to 78 years. To estimate the effect of saccadic suppression on contrast sensitivity, we used a two-alternative forced choice (2AFC) design and an adaptive staircase procedure to modulate the luminance or chromatic contrast of a flashed detection target during fixation and 15 ms after saccade onset. The target was a single horizontal luminance or chromatic line flashed 2° above or below the fixation or saccade target. Compared to fixation, average perisaccadic contrast sensitivity decreased significantly by 66% for luminance and by 36% for color. A significant correlation was found for the strength of saccadic suppression of luminance and color. However, a small age effect was found only for the strength of saccadic suppression of luminance, which increased from 64% to 70% from young to old age. We conclude that saccadic suppression for luminance and color is present in most participants independent of their age and that mechanisms of suppression stay relatively stable during healthy aging.
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