Friday, September 21, 2018 by Zoey Sky
We use stereo vision to perceive depth differences in our surroundings. For example, pedestrians and drivers use stereo vision to safely navigate roads while walking or driving.
Meanwhile, depth perception is important in many sporting activities. If athletes can hone their ability to correctly determine the distance and speed of a fast-moving object, this means that they can greatly improve their performance.
In a 2017 study, scientists have determined that training athletes with repetitive stereoscopic stimuli significantly improved their reaction speed to those stimuli.
For this particular study, the researchers used a commercial vision training apparatus called the c-Digital Vision Trainer® on 15 male soccer athletes. The athletes underwent 12 training sessions that were 15 minutes long for six weeks. The participants were shown images on a 3D-TV that simulated moving soccer balls, and each ball seemed to be both moving towards them and rotating. However, one ball appeared to be closer to the observer.
Subjects were then asked to point to the ball that was “in front” as fast as possible. Their “response time” was defined as the time it took each athlete to notice the depth difference plus the time for the motor reaction. Their total response time minus the time for the motor reaction was defined as the “processing time.” Testing different grades of complexity of the stimuli helped the scientists differentiate between the time for the motor reaction and the “processing time.”
Principal investigator Georg Michelson, M.D., Department of Ophthalmology of Friedrich-Alexander- University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Erlangen, Germany, said, “Elite athletes often operate at suprathreshold levels, which cannot be determined by classical stereo vision tests.” He continued, “Processing time, as the reaction time in which the absence or presence of depth was identified correctly, is of better predictive value for perceiving depth than the stereo threshold only. Our aim was to determine whether repetitive dynamic stereo testing with a limited time frame can induce a significant long-lasting improvement of stereo processing time in a group of young athletes with highly developed stereo acuity.”
The highly developed stereo acuity test confirmed that repetitive training decreased the athletes’ processing time. Moreover, the ability was persistent for six months even when the training ended.
The athletes’ processing time at 11 arc seconds (11/3600 degrees of an arc) decreased significantly from 804.4 milliseconds to 403.7 milliseconds after six training sessions. After six months, most of the subjects were tested again and showed no changes in their processing times from the last training session.
This study can greatly improve athletic performance, and benefit non-athletes with impaired stereo vision such as those with amblyopia (lazy eye syndrome). Amblyopia often causes weak or missing depth perception, and therapies that can improve this condition will be a great help. (Related: Vision breakthrough: eye exercises improve elders’ vision in two days to see as well as college kids.)
Michelson concluded: “Research of the past few years is increasingly changing the focus from pure monocular treatment to combination therapy with the fixing eye kept open and, finally, binocular therapy based on perceptual training. As recent studies additionally show repetitive identification was already able to improve visual acuity, we think that now it is the right time to investigate the same for stereo processing time.”
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You can read more articles about other technological advances at FutureScienceNews.com.