Peripheral and central factors limiting the development of contrast sensitivity in Macaque monkeys

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The aim of this study was to evaluate the contribution of peripheral and central factors to the development of visual sensitivity. We used the approach of Pelli to evaluate the hypothesis that intrinsic noise is high in infants compared with adults, and therefore sets an important limit on contrast sensitivity in infants. We measured contrast thresholds in the presence of various levels of dynamic spatiotemporal broadband noise in infant monkeys, and evaluated the developmental changes in contrast threshold and intrinsic noise. Our data show that intrinsic noise is high in infants and falls with contrast threshold during development. However, contrast thresholds in high-contrast noise also fall during development, although by a smaller amount. Therefore, while changes in intrinsic noise set an important limit on the development of contrast sensitivity across spatial frequencies, changes in non-additive sources of noise also contribute, particularly at high spatial frequencies. We interpret these results in terms of Pelli's hypothesis about the sources of additive and non-additive noise affecting visual detection. In these terms, additive noise reflects peripheral factors and non-additive noise reflects central ones. Our results suggest that changes in peripheral sources of noise represent an important limit for the development of visual sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalVision Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1998



  • Intrinsic noise
  • Monkey
  • Visual development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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