The effects of ageing on the pattern electroretinogram and visual evoked potential in humans

Vittorio Porciatti, David C. Burr, M. Concetta Morrone, Adriana Fiorentini

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We have recorded patterns electroretinograms (PERGs) and visual evoked potentials (VEPs) from 14 elderly subjects (mean age 72 yr) and 12 young subjects (mean age 21 yr) in response to stimulation by high contrast sinusoidal grating patterns of variable spatial frequency (at 9 Hz) and temporal frequency (at 1.7 c/deg). The major effect of ageing on the PERG was an aspecific reduction in amplitude (of about 40%) at most spatial and temporal frequencies, together with a small but systematic phase lag. Control measurements suggest that senile miosis may be responsible for the phase lag, but not for the reduction in amplitude. The effects of ageing on the VEP were more dramatic and depended on the spatial and temporal properties of the stimulus. VEP amplitudes (at 1.7 c/deg) were significantly lower for the aged at low temporal frequencies (below about 6 Hz), but were similar at high temporal frequencies. At 9 Hz, there was no effect of spatial frequency on VEP amplitude. At high temporal frequencies (above 10 Hz), the latencies of VEPs (estimated from the rate at which phase varied with temporal frequency) were similar for old and young (94 and 99 msec respectively). Below 10 Hz, however, the latencies of the old observers was much greater (153 compared with 108 msec). The second-harmonic phase of VEPs of the old but not the young decreased considerably with spatial frequency, by about 1.9π radians (52msec) over the range from 0.5 to 11 c/deg. The selective reduction in amplitude at low temporal frequencies, the longer latencies at low temporal frequencies and the phase lag at high spatial frequencies are consistent with the hypothesis that mechanisms sensitive to high spatial and low temporal frequencies are selectively degraded by ageing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1199-1209
Number of pages11
JournalVision Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1992


  • Ageing Vision Evoked potentials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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