Changes in low-level neural properties underlie age-dependent visual decision making

Elahe Arani* (Corresponding Author), Raymond Van Ee, Richard Van Wezel

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)
    93 Downloads (Pure)


    Aging typically slows down cognitive processes, specifically those related to perceptual decisions. However, the neurobiological mechanisms underlying these age-associated changes are still elusive. To address this, we studied the effect of aging on both perceptual and binocular rivalry in various presentation conditions. Two age groups of participants reported their spontaneous percept switches during continuous presentation and percept choices during intermittent presentation. We find no significant age effect on the mean and cumulative frequencies of percept switch durations under continuous presentation. However, the data show a significant age effect on coefficient of variation, ratio of standard deviation to mean of percept durations. Our results also reveal that the alternation rate for percept choices significantly declines at an older age under intermittent presentation. The latter effect is even more pronounced at shorter inter-stimulus durations. These results together with the predictions of existing neural models for bistable perception imply that age-dependency of visual perceptual decisions is caused by shifts in neural adaptation and noise, not by a change in inhibition strength. Thus, variation in the low-level neural properties, adaptation and noise, cause age-dependent properties in visual perceptual decisions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number10789
    JournalScientific reports
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2018


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