The effects of aging on the perception of depth from motion parallax

Jessica Holmin, Mark Nawrot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Successful navigation in the world requires effective visuospatial processing. Unfortunately, older adults have many visuospatial deficits, which can have severe real-world consequences. Although some of these age effects are well documented, some others, such as the perception of depth from motion parallax, are poorly understood. Depth perception from motion parallax requires intact retinal image motion and pursuit eye movement processing. Decades of research have shown that both motion processing and pursuit eye movements are affected by age; it follows that older adults may also be less sensitive to depth from motion parallax. The goals of the present study were to characterize motion parallax depth thresholds in older adults, and to explain older adults’ sensitivity to depth from motion parallax in terms of motion and pursuit deficits. Younger and older adults’ motion thresholds and pursuit accuracy were measured. Observers’ depth thresholds across several different stimulus conditions were measured, as well. Older adults had higher motion thresholds and less accurate pursuit than younger adults. They were also less sensitive to depth from motion parallax at slow and moderate pursuit speeds. Although older adults had higher motion thresholds than younger adults, they used the available motion signals optimally, and age differences in motion processing could not account for the older adults’ increased depth thresholds. Rather, these age effects can be explained by changes in older adults’ pursuit signals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1681-1691
Number of pages11
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Depth perception
  • Depth thresholds
  • Motion parallax
  • Smooth pursuit eye movements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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