Zoom Brown Bag: Understanding Smooth Pursuit Deficits in Macular Degeneration

Zoom Brown Bag: Understanding Smooth Pursuit Deficits in Macular Degeneration

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Jason Rubinstein, Postdoctoral Fellow

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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most prevalent cause of central visual field loss. Since the high-acuity fovea (the oculomotor locus) is often impaired in AMD, people afflicted with the condition typically have difficulties with smooth pursuit eye movements. In this brown-bag, I will detail two possible causes for deficits in smooth pursuit in AMD: 1) noisy sensory input due to objects disappearing into the scotoma, and 2) oculomotor instability due to the use of an eccentric preferred retinal locus (PRL). To address the first cause, we designed an experiment to categorize the noise introduced when the target of pursuit is hidden by the scotoma in AMD. We presented control participants with a Brownian motion display with an increased dot density region into which the target could disappear and compared pursuit during this disappearance with AMD participants. In addition to showing preliminary results, I present a plan to categorize the effects of oculomotor instability on the pursuit in AMD as well as a candidate model to integrate the two proposed causes of pursuit deficits in AMD, based on Bayesian frameworks recently used to describe predictive smooth pursuit in individuals with healthy vision. 

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