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Gradiate: A radial sweep approach to measuring detailed contrast sensitivity functions from eye movements
The contrast sensitivity function (CSF) is an informative measure of visual health, but the practical difficulty of measuring it has impeded detailed analyses of its relationship to different visual disorders. Furthermore, most existing tasks cannot be used in populations with cognitive impairment. We analyzed detailed CSFs measured with a nonverbal procedure called "Gradiate," which efficiently infers visibility from eye movements and manipulates stimulus appearance in real time. Sixty observers of varying age (38 with refractive error) were presented with moving stimuli. Stimulus spatial frequency and contrast advanced along 15 radial sweeps through CSF space in response to stimulus-congruent eye movements. A point on the CSF was recorded when tracking ceased. Gradiate CSFs were reliable and in high agreement with independent low-contrast acuity thresholds. Overall CSF variation was largely captured by two orthogonal factors ("radius" and "slope") or two orthogonal shape factors when size was normalized ("aspect ratio" and "curvature"). CSF radius was highly predictive of LogMAR acuity, as were aspect ratio and curvature together, but only radius was predictive of observer age. Our findings suggest that Gradiate holds promise for assessing spatial vision in both verbal and nonverbal populations and indicate that variation between detailed CSFs can reveal useful information about visual health.