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Marcello Maniglia, Kristina Visscher, Aaron Seitz; PRL location consistency across tasks and participants: a simulated scotoma study. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2876. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.9.2876.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
After loss of central vision due to retinal pathologies such as Macular Degeneration (MD), patients often adopt compensatory strategies including developing a "preferred retinal locus" (PRL) to replace the fovea in tasks involving fixation. A key question is whether patients develop stable, multi-purpose PRLs or whether they adapt their oculomotor strategies to the demands of the task. While the majority of MD patients spontaneously develop a PRL, clinical evidence suggests that patients may develop multiple PRLs or switch them according to the task at hand. To understand this, we examined a controlled model of central vision loss in normally seeing individuals and tested whether they used the same or different PRL across tasks after training. Nineteen healthy participants were trained for 10 sessions on a contrast detection task in conditions of simulated central vision loss via gaze-contingent display. Before and after training, their peripheral looking strategies were evaluated during transfer tasks measuring visual acuity, reading abilities and visual search. To quantify strategies in these disparate, naturalistic tasks, we created polar plots indicating the amount of task-relevant information for each fixation in each task and compared these within and across individuals. Results showed that some participants used consistent looking strategies across tasks whereas other participants’ peripheral viewing strategies differed across tasks. These results represent one of the first examinations of the extent to which peripheral viewing strategies are consistent or not within cases of simulated vision loss across tasks and suggest that individual differences in peripheral looking strategies that develop in simulated central vision loss may model those developed in pathological vision loss.
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