Development of sampling efficiency and internal noise in motion detection and discrimination in school-aged children

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The aim of this study was to use an equivalent noise paradigm to investigate the development and maturation of motion perception, and how the underlying limitations of sampling efficiency and internal noise effect motion detection and direction discrimination in school-aged children (5–14 years) and adults. Contrast energy thresholds of a 2 c/deg sinusoidal grating drifting at 1.0 or 6.0 Hz were measured as a function of added dynamic noise in three tasks: detection of a drifting grating; detection of the sum of two oppositely drifting gratings and direction discrimination of oppositely drifting gratings. Compared to the ideal observer, in both children and adults, the performance for all tasks was limited by reduced sampling efficiency and internal noise. However, the thresholds for discrimination of motion direction and detection of moving gratings show very different developmental profiles. Motion direction discrimination continues to improve after the age of 14 years due to an increase in sampling efficiency that differs with speed. Motion detection and summation were already mature at the age of 5 years, and internal noise was the same for all tasks. These findings were confirmed in a 1-year follow-up study on a group of children from the initial study. The results support suggestions that the detection of a moving pattern and discriminating motion direction are processed by different systems that may develop at different rates.

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