The contribution of central and peripheral vision in scene categorization: A study on people with central vision loss

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Abstract

Studies in normally sighted people suggest that scene recognition is based on global physical properties and can be accomplished by the low resolution of peripheral vision. We examine the contribution of peripheral and central vision in scene gist recognition in patients with central vision loss and age-matched controls. Twenty-one patients with neovascular age related macular degeneration (AMD), with a visual acuity lower than 20/50, and 15 age-matched normally sighted controls participated in a natural/urban scene categorization task. The stimuli were colored photographs of natural scenes presented randomly at one of five spatial locations of a computer screen: centre, top left, top right, bottom left and bottom right at 12° eccentricity. Sensitivity (d′) and response times were recorded. Normally sighted people exhibited higher sensitivity and shorter response times when the scene was presented centrally than for peripheral pictures. Sensitivity was lower and response times were longer for people with AMD than for controls at all spatial location. In contrast to controls patients were not better for central than for peripheral pictures. The results of normally sighted controls indicate that scene categorization can be accomplished by the low resolution of peripheral vision but central vision remains more efficient than peripheral vision for scene gist recognition. People with central vision loss likely categorized scenes on the basis of low frequency information both in normal peripheral vision and in low acuity central vision.

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