The effect of aging on contour integration

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Perception of global patterns requires the integration of local orientation information across space. The present study examined whether this integration ability declines in older age. We measured contrast thresholds for discriminating the global orientation of a “C” shaped contour against a blank background in younger and older subjects. Performance of younger subjects improved when the elements composing the “C” were aligned along the contour path, as opposed to being orthogonal to it or of mixed orientations. However, older subjects' performance was not affected by the orientation of the local elements. This indicates an age-related decline in contour integration.

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