Does losing stereoscopic vision matter? Age-related differences in cue-combination compensation


Conference Name

IMRF 2024

Conference Location

Reno, Nevada, USA


Our sense of depth is critical for everyday tasks and stereopsis (stereoscopic vision) is crucial for perceiving depth. Multiple visual cues (like stereopsis or motion parallax) are combined with proprioceptive cues (e.g., during vergence) into a single depth representation. Moreover, stereopsis is calibrated to individuals’ peripersonal space to optimize interaction with the external world. What happens when we lose stereopsis or when it weakens with age? This study explores how younger and older adults adapt to losing stereopsis in everyday life and whether they rely on other cues to compensate. Sixteen younger and 16 older adults with healthy stereopsis were asked to perform everyday tasks (making coffee, setting a table) under monocular and binocular viewing while their movements were tracked. For fair comparison, we equalized the visual field between conditions, thus only manipulating stereopsis. The order of conditions was counterbalanced in each group. Primary outcomes were completion time and hand movement kinematics. We adjusted statistics for multiple comparisons. Removing stereopsis slowed down both age groups. Older adults were significantly more affected, taking significantly longer to finish each task. Albeit small, the effect suggests that older adults may rely more on stereopsis in daily life, or have greater difficulty compensating for its loss with other cues. Participants moved their hands faster when using stereopsis but we found no difference in smoothness. Age-specific interventions targeting stereovision (particularly as it is impaired in multiple age-related visual pathologies), multisensory integration or cue-combination could be valuable in improving autonomy and quality of life in aging.

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