Endogenous attention improves perception in amblyopic macaques

Amelie Pham, Marisa Carrasco, Lynne Kiorpes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amblyopia, a developmental disorder of vision, affects many aspects of spatial vision as well as motion perception and some cognitive skills. Current models of amblyopic vision based on known neurophysiological deficiencies have yet to provide an understanding of the wide range of amblyopic perceptual losses. Visual spatial attention is known to enhance performance in a variety of detection and discrimination tasks in visually typical humans and nonhuman primates. We investigated whether and how voluntary spatial attention affected psychophysical performance in amblyopic macaques. Full-contrast response functions for motion direction discrimination were measured for each eye of six monkeys: five amblyopic and one control. We assessed whether the effect of a valid spatial cue on performance corresponded to a change in contrast gain, a leftward shift of the function, or response gain, an upward scaling of the function. Our results showed that macaque amblyopes benefit from a valid spatial cue. Performance with amblyopic eyes viewing showed enhancement of both contrast and response gain whereas fellow and control eyes' performance showed only contrast gain. Reaction time analysis showed no speed accuracy tradeoff in any case. The valid spatial cue improved contrast sensitivity for the amblyopic eye, effectively eliminating the amblyopic contrast sensitivity deficit. These results suggest that engaging endogenous spatial attention may confer substantial benefit to amblyopic vision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Amblyopia
  • Contrast response function
  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Endogenous attention
  • Macaque monkey
  • Motion discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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