David Ball

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Doris Redfield, John O’Connor, Karlene Ball

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The aim of this project was to examine the effects of perceptual learning, or practice, on the vision of older adults. Previous findings had indicated that older adults have restricted functional visual fields, but that practice in detecting peripheral targets can substantially improve their performance. Two possible explanations for poorer performance in the older age groups were examined: 1) slowed speed of central perceptual processing and 2) attentional deficit problems. Six observers in each of three age groups were tested and trained in performing a peripheral localization task while performing a concurrent central task. A progressive loss in the functional visual field was again demonstrated as a result of age. All age groups, however, improved significantly in their performance of the task over seven sessions. Results supported the attention deficit explanation for poorer performance in the older age groups. The findings were consistent with the position that older observers find it more difficult to avoid processing irrelevant information in the visual field. Future research will need to determine whether or not improved performance following practice endures with time.


Clinical Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences