Visual function demands coordinated responses to information over a wide field of view, involving both central and peripheral vision. Visually impaired individuals often seem to underutilize peripheral vision, even in absence of obvious peripheral deficits. Motivated by perceptual training studies with typically sighted adults, we examined the effectiveness of perceptual training in improving peripheral perception of visually impaired youth. Here, we evaluated the effectiveness of three training regimens: (1) an action video game, (2) a psychophysical task that combined attentional tracking with a spatially and temporally unpredictable motion discrimination task, and (3) a control video game. Training with both the action video game and modified attentional tracking yielded improvements in visual performance. Training effects were generally larger in the far periphery and appear to be stable 12 months after training. These results indicate that peripheral perception might be under-utilized by visually impaired youth and that this underutilization can be improved with only ∼8 hours of perceptual training. Moreover, the similarity of improvements following attentional tracking and action video-game training suggest that well-documented effects of action video-game training might be due to the sustained deployment of attention to multiple dynamic targets while concurrently requiring rapid attending and perception of unpredictable events.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Supported by National Eye Institute grants R03 EY15558 (JL), R01 EY019295 (DT), and P30 EY08126 and P30 EY001319 and a National Science Foundation grant 1643544 (JN). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. We thank Anne Corn and Kelly Lusk for help with the study, Doug Morse for help with statistical analysis, April Poggi for help with manuscript preparation, and Daphne Bavelier for manuscript comments.