Effect of contrast, stimulus density, and viewing distance on multifocal steady-state visual evoked potentials (MSVs)

Siti N. Abdullah, Nada Aldahlawi, Yanti Rosli, Vaegan, Mei Ying Boon, Ted Maddess*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose. We investigated the effects of image contrast, stimulus density, and viewing distance upon a multifocal steady-state visual evoked potential (MSV) method. Methods. Fourteen adults with normal vision (mean age = 27.0 ± 6.6 years; 6 males) participated in the study. Each of the stimulus regions of the multifocal ensembles presented a contrast modulated grating, displaying spatial and temporal frequencies that evoke the spatial frequency doubling illusion. All subjects were tested at five contrasts: 0.06, 0.11, 0.22, 0.45, and 0.89; viewed at 16, 32, and 128 cm. A multivariate linear model estimated factors for each stimulus region, recording channel, number of stimuli (9 or 17 regions), and sex; and covariates for contrast, and octaves of viewing distance, and age. Results. The responses per unit area for the 17-region display were significantly larger than for the 9-region display (P < 10-12). The contrast-response function could be described by a power law with exponent 0.068 (P < 0.008). The effect of viewing distance was small but significant: response amplitude dropped by -0.17 ± 0.03 dB per octave of viewing distance (P < 10-6), or 10% over 8 octaves. Conclusions. The response per unit area indicated that cortical folding diminishes responses to larger stimuli. Viewing distance did not greatly affect response amplitude. This suggested that we can use similar, but scaled, stimuli to study central and peripheral disease. The rapidly saturating contrast responses imply that there would be nothing lost from testing at contrasts as low as 20% given that higher, saturating contrasts might mask visual field defects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5527-5535
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


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