Effects of Alzheimer's Disease on Visual Target Detection: A "Peripheral Bias".
Vallejo V., Cazzoli D., Rampa L., Zito GA., Feuerstein F., Gruber N., Müri RM., Mosimann UP., Nef T.
Visual exploration is an omnipresent activity in everyday life, and might represent an important determinant of visual attention deficits in patients with Alzheimer's Disease (AD). The present study aimed at investigating visual search performance in AD patients, in particular target detection in the far periphery, in daily living scenes. Eighteen AD patients and 20 healthy controls participated in the study. They were asked to freely explore a hemispherical screen, covering ±90°, and to respond to targets presented at 10°, 30°, and 50° eccentricity, while their eye movements were recorded. Compared to healthy controls, AD patients recognized less targets appearing in the center. No difference was found in target detection in the periphery. This pattern was confirmed by the fixation distribution analysis. These results show a neglect for the central part of the visual field for AD patients and provide new insights by mean of a search task involving a larger field of view.