Individual differences in contrast sensitivity functions: the first four months of life in humans

David H. Peterzell, John S Werner, Peter S. Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Contrast sensitivity functions of forty 4-month-old human infants were measured using a preferential-looking method and the method of constant stimuli. Circular sinewave gratings varied from 0.27 to 1.08 c/deg, contained eight unattenuated cycles (with edges tapered to uniform gray), and rose to the desired contrast in 2 sec. Log contrast sensitivities for variables close in spatial frequency correlated more highly than those that were farther apart in these data, and in data of 1-, 2-, and 3-month-olds from Banks and Salapatek [(1981) Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 31, 1-45]. Factor analyses yielded at least two frequency-tuned factors per age group. Monte Carlo simulations of a quantitative model that shifts spatial mechanisms to higher frequencies with age reproduced the results for 4-month-olds, but simulations of adultlike, unshifting mechanisms did not. The data are consistent with the following conclusions: 1. (a) individual differences in the sensitivity of spatial mechanisms may explain some individual differences in CSFs; 2. (b) factor analysis may help to estimate mechanism tuning; and 3. (c) spatial mechanisms may shift to higher frequencies during development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-396
Number of pages16
JournalVision Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Contrast sensitivity Factor analysis Individual differences Infant vision Spatial frequency Visual development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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