The Senior

Improving vision with training: research to discover the conditions that lead to best improvement

SEEING MORE CLEARLY: Conducting research into better vision through training are Chongyue He and Allison McKendrick.

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Previous research shows that visual performance can be improved with training.

At the Department of Optometry & Vision Sciences, The University of Melbourne, talented PhD student Ms Chongyue He is trying to understand the conditions that lead to best improvement.

She is also trying to understand situations that disrupt learning, and whether these conditions are different in adults of varying age. To solve this puzzle, she is training people to perform simple vision related tasks on a computer, and then retesting them over several days to measure the impact of training.

The aim of this research is to find evidence for how to best train people to improve their visual performance. This knowledge helps to understand healthy brain function but also is important for trying to maximise vision in people who lose vision from age-related eye disease.

Ms He said: "How the brain processes information received from the eyes can be shaped by daily visual experiences. I am hoping to contribute to this research that helps us better understand how the brain learns things as adults. A lot of research in this area has studied university students (i.e. younger adults) to find out what training paradigms are more beneficial. However, our knowledge on how to better train older adults is still limited. In my PhD, I hope to train both younger and older adults to understand why different individuals respond to different training paradigms and if this is influenced by their age."

This project is part of a larger research project being led by Professor Allison McKendrick, which is investigating brain plasticity in healthy older adults, and is funded by the Australian Research Council. The results will have important implications for understanding brain health in older adults.

The research team is looking for more older adults (aged between 60-80 years) to participate in the research program. Participants will receive a small compensation to offset travel expenses incurred in attending ($20 gift card per visit).

For more information about the study, please contact the Clinical Psychophysics Laboratory, Department of Optometry & Vision Sciences, The University of Melbourne on (03) 9035 9979; or email Professor Allison McKendrick at allisonm@unimelb.edu.au.

Broader information about the research program can be found at: Prof Allison McKendrick (unimelb.edu.au)

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