Aging and blur adaptation

Sarah L. Elliott, Joseph L. Hardy, Michael A. Webster, John S Werner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Color appearance remains remarkably stable in the aging visual system despite large changes in the spectral distribution of the retinal stimulus and losses in chromatic sensitivity (P. B. Delahunt, J. L. Hardy, K. Okajima, & J. S. Werner, 2005; J. S. Werner, 1996). This stability could reflect adaptive adjustments in peripheral or central chromatic mechanisms that compensate for sensitivity losses in senescence. We asked whether similar compensatory adjustments play a role in maintaining spatial vision-and whether the adaptation itself shows changes with aging-by examining the effects of adaptation on judgments of image focus. Perceptual after effects following adaptation to a uniform field and blurred or sharpened images were compared between younger adults and older observers. Subjects adapted to a sequence of blurred or sharpened images for 120 s, and a two-alternative forced-choice staircase task was used to vary the filter exponent of the test to define the subjective point of best focus. There was a small but significant difference between younger and older observers in the level perceived as best focused in all three adaptation conditions, possibly reflecting differences in the ambient blur level the groups are routinely exposed to. However, the magnitude of the blur aftereffect did not differ between the two age groups. These results suggest that although there may be small differences in the long-term adaptation to blur, younger and older observers do not differ in the strength of adaptation to transient changes in blur. The neural processes mediating adaptation to blur thus appear to remain largely intact with aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 18 2007


  • Aging
  • Blur adaptation
  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Spatial vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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