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Undercounting features and missing features: evidence for a high-level deficit in strabismic amblyopia

Abstract

Abnormal visual development in strabismic amblyopia drastically affects visual perception and properties of neurons in primary visual cortex (V1). To test the notion that amblyopia also has consequences for higher visual areas, we asked humans with amblyopia to count briefly presented features. Using the amblyopic eye, strabismic amblyopes counted inaccurately, markedly underestimating the number of features. This inaccuracy was not due to low-level considerations (blur, visibility, crowding, undersampling or topographical jitter), as they also underestimated the number of features missing from a uniform grid. Rather, counting deficits in strabismic amblyopes reflected a higher-level limitation in the number of features the amblyopic visual system can individuate.

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Figure 1: Examples of stimuli.
Figure 2: Experiment 1: counting patches.
Figure 3: Number reported versus number of features for experiment 1.
Figure 4: Experiment 2: counting ‘missing features’.
Figure 5: Experiment 2: counting ‘vertical features’.
Figure 6: Effect of cueing on attention.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Ailene Kim for her help with the ‘missing patches’ experiment and Y. Chino for discussions on an early draft of this paper. This research was supported by research grants R01EY01728 and RO1 EY04776, a Core Center Grant P30EY07551, and short-term training grant T35EY07088 from the National Eye Institute, NIH.

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Correspondence to Dennis M. Levi.

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Sharma, V., Levi, D. & Klein, S. Undercounting features and missing features: evidence for a high-level deficit in strabismic amblyopia. Nat Neurosci 3, 496–501 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1038/74872

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