The upper disparity limit increases gradually with eccentricity

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publication: Journal of Vision, Volume 19, Issue 11 (2019)

Stereopsis is important for tasks of daily living such as eye-hand coordination. It is best in central vision but is also mediated by the periphery. Previously we have shown that individuals with central-field loss who have residual stereopsis in the periphery perform better at an eye-hand-coordination task when they perform the task binocularly rather than monocularly. Here we seek to determine what sets the limit of stereopsis, defined as the largest disparity that supports the sustained appearance of depth, in the near periphery in healthy individuals. While stereoacuity thresholds increase sharply with eccentricity, Panum’s area increases much more slowly. We used a rigorous method to determine the uppermost limit of disparity. At long durations, the two half-images that define a large disparity appear as two isolated targets in the same flat plane; small incremental changes in disparity produce changes in the separation between the half-images, and disparity magnitude can be judged on the basis of separation, like a monocular width judgment. The disparity limit is the point at which the threshold for judging dichoptic separation between the half-images is equal to the monocular width-discrimination threshold. The disparity limit at 108 was a factor of 2–4 times larger than the fovea, regardless of the meridian tested. The increase in the disparity limit with eccentricity was shallow, similar to that of Panum’s area. Within this disparity limit, disparity increment thresholds were comparable for foveal and peripheral targets, illustrating the significance and utility of peripheral stereopsis, especially in the absence of foveal stereopsis.

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