Perceptual learning is gaining acceptance as a potential treatment for amblyopia in adults and children beyond the critical period. Many perceptual learning paradigms result in very specific improvement that does not generalize beyond the training stimulus, closely related stimuli, or visual field location. To be of use in amblyopia, a less specific effect is needed. To address this problem, we designed a more general training paradigm intended to effect improvement in visual sensitivity across tasks and domains. We used a “global” visual stimulus, random dot motion direction discrimination with 6 training conditions, and tested for posttraining improvement on a motion detection task and 3 spatial domain tasks (contrast sensitivity, Vernier acuity, Glass pattern detection). Four amblyopic macaques practiced the motion discrimination with their amblyopic eye for at least 20,000 trials. All showed improvement, defined as a change of at least a factor of 2, on the trained task. In addition, all animals showed improvements in sensitivity on at least some of the transfer test conditions, mainly the motion detection task; transfer to the spatial domain was inconsistent but best at fine spatial scales. However, the improvement on the transfer tasks was largely not retained at long-term follow-up. Our generalized training approach is promising for amblyopia treatment, but sustaining improved performance may require additional intervention.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems