Multiple sensitive periods in human visual development: Evidence from visually deprived children

Authors

  • Terri L. Lewis,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada
    2. Department of Ophthalmology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto M5G 1X8, Canada
    3. Department of Ophthalmology, University of Toronto, Toronto M5T 2S8, Canada
    • Department of Psychology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada.
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  • Daphne Maurer

    1. Department of Psychology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada
    2. Department of Ophthalmology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto M5G 1X8, Canada
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Abstract

Psychophysical studies of children deprived of early visual experience by dense cataracts indicate that there are multiple sensitive periods during which experience can influence visual development. We note three sensitive periods within acuity, each with different developmental time courses: the period of visually-driven normal development, the sensitive period for damage, and the sensitive period for recovery. Moreover, there are different sensitive periods for different aspects of vision. Relative to the period of visually driven normal development, the sensitive period for damage is surprisingly long for acuity, peripheral vision, and asymmetry of optokinetic nystagmus, but surprisingly short for global motion. A comparison of results from unilaterally versus bilaterally deprived children provides insights into the complex nature of interactions between the eyes during normal visual development. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 46: 163–183, 2005.

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