Optimizing the rapid measurement of detection thresholds in infants.
Jones PR., Kalwarowsky S., Braddick OJ., Atkinson J., Nardini M.
Accurate measures of perceptual threshold are difficult to obtain in infants. In a clinical context, the challenges are particularly acute because the methods must yield meaningful results quickly and within a single individual. The present work considers how best to maximize speed, accuracy, and reliability when testing infants behaviorally and suggests some simple principles for improving test efficiency. Monte Carlo simulations, together with empirical (visual acuity) data from 65 infants, are used to demonstrate how psychophysical methods developed with adults can produce misleading results when applied to infants. The statistical properties of an effective clinical infant test are characterized, and based on these, it is shown that (a) a reduced (false-positive) guessing rate can greatly increase test efficiency, (b) the ideal threshold to target is often below 50% correct, and (c) simply taking the max correct response can often provide the best measure of an infant's perceptual sensitivity.