Infoscience

Conference paper

Is there a common cause for perceptual decline in the aging brain?

Even in the absence of neurodegenerative disease, aging strongly affects vision. Whereas optical deficits are well documented, much less is known perceptual deficits. In most perceptual studies, one paradigm is tested and it is usually found that older participants perform worse than younger participants. Implicitly, these results are taken as evidence that all visual functions of an individual decline determined by one factor, with some individuals aging more severly than others. However, this is not true. We tested 131 older participants (mean age 70 years old) and 108 younger participants (mean age 22 years old) in 14 perceptual tests (including motion perception, contrast and orientation sensitivity, biological motion perception) and in 3 cognitive tasks (WCST, verbal fluency and digit span). Young participants performed better than older participants in almost all of the tests. However, within the group of older participants, age did not predict performance, i.e., a participant could have good results in biological motion perception but poor results in orientation discrimination. It seems that there is not a single ‘‘aging’’ factor but many.

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