Adaptation of eye-movements to simulated hemianopia in reading and visual exploration: Transfer or specificity?

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Abstract

Reading and visual exploration impairments in unilateral homonymous hemianopia are well-established clinical phenomena. Spontaneous adaptation of eye-movements to the visual field defect leads to improved reading and visual exploration performance. Yet, it is still unclear whether oculomotor adaptation to visual field loss is task-specific or whether there is a transfer of adaptation-related improvements between reading and visual exploration. We therefore simulated unilateral homonymous hemianopia in healthy participants and explored the specificity with which oculomotor adaptation to this pure visual-sensory dysfunction during uninstructed reading or visual exploration practice leads to improvements in both abilities. Our findings demonstrate that there is no transfer of adaptation-related changes of eye-movements and performance improvements between reading and visual exploration. Efficient oculomotor adaptation to visual field loss is highly specific and task-dependent.

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