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Tessa Dekker, Marko Nardini, Peter Jones; Model-based MRI and psychophysics reveal crucial role of decision-making in visual development in childhood.. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):34. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.9.34.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Vision undergoes major development during infancy and childhood, demonstrated in improvements in both detection and recognition tasks. Classically, developmental vision research has focussed on sensitivity improvements in early visual channels. However, in recent years, decision-theoretic approaches have formalised how changes in visual performance could also result from more efficient use of available information, for example by optimising decision rules, cost functions, and priors. Using these quantitative frameworks, we are beginning to understand how these factors contribute to childhood vision. For example, improved depth perception in late childhood reflects a shift from processing depth cues independently to combining them in visual cortex, as demonstrated by the emergence of fMRI evidence for fused depth-cue representations within neural detectors in area V3B. Similarly, development of visual motion-, location-, and object perception, in part reflects more efficient combining of stimulus features (e.g., averaging dots across displays) besides greater sensitivity to these features’ properties (e.g., single dot motion). Thus, rather than greater sensitivity to basic visual information, substantial improvements in visual discrimination and detection may reflect better inferential capacities. This also applies to visually-guided movement tasks that emulate real-life action under risk: while adults can rapidly identify visuomotor strategies that minimise risk and uncertainty in new situations with complex cost factors, children up to age 10 years do not. Together, these studies show that improved decision-making plays a major role in visual development in childhood, and that modelling this role is needed to gain computational-level insight in the driving factors of human visual plasticity.
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