Visual contrast sensitivity in Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment, and older adults with cognitive complaints

Shannon L. Risacher, Darrell WuDunn, Susan M. Pepin, Tamiko R. MaGee, Brenna C. McDonald, Laura A. Flashman, Heather A. Wishart, Heather S. Pixley, Laura A. Rabin, Nadia Paré, Jessica J. Englert, Eben Schwartz, Joshua R. Curtain, John D. West, Darren P. O'Neill, Robert B. Santulli, Richard W. Newman, Andrew J. Saykin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Deficits in contrast sensitivity (CS) have been reported in Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the extent of these deficits in prodromal AD stages, including mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or even earlier, has not been investigated. In this study, CS was assessed using frequency doubling technology in older adults with AD (n = 10), amnestic MCI (n = 28), cognitive complaints without performance deficits (CC; n = 20), and healthy controls (HC; n = 29). The association between CS and cognition was also evaluated. Finally, the accuracy of CS measures for classifying MCI versus HC was evaluated. CS deficits were found in AD and MCI, while CC showed intermediate performance between MCI and HC. Upper right visual field CS showed the most significant difference among groups. CS was also associated with cognitive performance. Finally, CS measures accurately classified MCI versus HC. The CS deficits in AD and MCI, and intermediate performance in CC, indicate that these measures are sensitive to early AD-associated changes. Therefore, frequency doubling technology-based measures of CS may have promise as a novel AD biomarker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1133-1144
Number of pages12
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Alzheimer's disease (AD)
  • Biomarker
  • Cognitive complaints
  • Contrast sensitivity (CS)
  • Frequency doubling technology (FDT)
  • Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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