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Effective binocular vision is dependent on both motor and perceptual function. Young children undergo development of both components while interacting with their dynamic three-dimensional environment. When this development fails, eye misalignment and double vision may result. We compared the range of image disparities over which young children display reflex motor realignment of their eyes with the range over which they report a single versus double percept. In response to step changes in the disparity of a 2.2° wide stimulus, 5-year-olds generated an adult-like reflex vergence velocity tuning function peaking at 2° of disparity, with a mean latency of 210 ms. On average, they reported double vision for stimulus disparities of 3° and larger, compared to 1° in adult reports. Three-year-olds also generated reflex vergence tuning functions peaking at approximately 2° of disparity, but their percepts could not be assessed. These data suggest that, by age 5, reflex eye realignment responses and percepts driven by these brief stimuli are tightly coordinated in space and time to permit robust binocular function around the point of fixation. Importantly, the plastic neural processes maintaining this tight coordination during growth control the stability of visual information driving learning during childhood.

Citation

Kimberly Meier, Deanna L Lundell, Eric S Seemiller, Deborah Giaschi, Laurie M Wilcox, T Rowan Candy. The relationship between reflex eye realignment and the percept of single vision in young children. Scientific reports. 2021 Jan 11;11(1):375

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PMID: 33431972

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