The contrast sensitivity of the newborn human infant

Angela M. Brown, Delwin T. Lindsey, Joanna G. Cammenga, Peter J. Giannone, Michael R. Stenger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To measure the binocular contrast sensitivity (CS) of newborn infants using a fixation-and-following card procedure. METHODS. The CS of 119 healthy newborn infants was measured using stimuli printed on cards under the descending method of limits (93 infants) and randomized/masked designs (26 infants). One experienced and one novice adult observer tested the infants using vertical square-wave gratings (0.06 and 0.10 cyc/deg; 20/10,000 and 20/6000 nominal Snellen equivalent); the experienced observer also tested using horizontal gratings (0.10 cyc/deg) and using the Method of Constant Stimuli while being kept unaware of the stimulus values. RESULTS. The CS of the newborn infant was 2.0 (contrast threshold 0.497; 95% confidence interval: 0.475-0.524) for vertically oriented gratings and 1.74 (threshold 0.575; 95% confidence interval: 0.523-0.633) for horizontally oriented gratings (P < 0.0006). The standard deviation of infant CS was comparable to that obtained by others on adults using the Pelli-Robson chart. The two observers showed similar practice effects. Randomization of stimulus order and masking of the adult observer had no effect on CS. CONCLUSIONS. The CS of individual newborn human infants can be measured using a fixation-and-following card procedure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-632
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Inc.


  • Card procedure
  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Fixation-and-following
  • Neonatal
  • Newborn

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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