The effect of normal aging on closed contour shape discrimination

Allison M McKendrick, Anne E Weymouth, Josephine Battista

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Our experiments explore whether contour processing of closed shapes is altered by healthy aging. Contour processing was measured using a closed contour (circle or ellipse) constructed of Gabor elements. The contour was presented either on a blank background or embedded in noise (identical Gabor elements of random orientation). Twenty-one older (age range: 61-80 years) and 21 younger (age range: 22-38 years) adults participated in three experiments: 1) the number of Gabors comprising the contour was fixed (10, 12 or 15) and the threshold aspect ratio required to discriminate the shape (circle versus ellipse) was measured; 2) orientation jitter was added to the Gabor elements comprising the contour and shape aspect ratio discrimination thresholds were measured; and 3) the aspect ratio was fixed (three times the individual threshold aspect ratios) and the threshold number of elements required to determine the shape was measured. Older adults required a larger number of elements to discriminate the global contour shape (F(1, 41) = 15, p < 0.001), even when stimulus saliency was matched for contrast sensitivity and aspect ratio threshold. This finding is consistent with other recent work showing deteriorations in cortically mediated visual processing with age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1.1-9
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


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