Training-induced recovery of undeveloped visual functions may be followed by improved perceptual functions: indication from adult with perceptual impairments

Citation:

D., Gotthilf-Nezri, Lev M., Yehezkel O., Gilaie-Dotan S., Perry A., Bentin S., Bonneh Y., and Polat U. “Training-induced recovery of undeveloped visual functions may be followed by improved perceptual functions: indication from adult with perceptual impairments.” Developmental Science 18, no. 1 (2015): 50-64.

Abstract:

Long-term deprivation of normal visual inputs can cause perceptual impairments at various levels of visual function, from basic visual acuity deficits, through mid-level deficits such as contour integration and motion coherence, to high-level face and object agnosia. Yet it is unclear whether training during adulthood, at a post-developmental stage of the adult visual system, can overcome such developmental impairments. Here, we visually trained LG, a developmental object and face agnosic individual. Prior to training, at the age of 20, LG's basic and mid-level visual functions such as visual acuity, crowding effects, and contour integration were underdeveloped relative to normal adult vision, corresponding to or poorer than those of 5–6 year olds (Gilaie-Dotan, Perry, Bonneh, Malach & Bentin, 2009). Intensive visual training, based on lateral interactions, was applied for a period of 9 months. LG's directly trained but also untrained visual functions such as visual acuity, crowding, binocular stereopsis and also mid-level contour integration improved significantly and reached near-age-level performance, with long-term (over 4 years) persistence. Moreover, mid-level functions that were tested post-training were found to be normal in LG. Some possible subtle improvement was observed in LG's higher-order visual functions such as object recognition and part integration, while LG's face perception skills have not improved thus far. These results suggest that corrective training at a post-developmental stage, even in the adult visual system, can prove effective, and its enduring effects are the basis for a revival of a developmental cascade that can lead to reduced perceptual impairments.