Age-related changes in global motion coherence: conflicting haemodynamic and perceptual responses

Laura McKernan Ward*, Gordon Morison, Anita Jane Simmers, Uma Shahani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)


Our aim was to use both behavioural and neuroimaging data to identify indicators of perceptual decline in motion processing. We employed a global motion coherence task and functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS). Healthy adults (n¿=¿72, 18–85) were recruited into the following groups: young (n¿=¿28, mean age¿=¿28), middle-aged (n¿=¿22, mean age¿=¿50), and older adults (n¿=¿23, mean age¿=¿70). Participants were assessed on their motion coherence thresholds at 3 different speeds using a psychophysical design. As expected, we report age group differences in motion processing as demonstrated by higher motion coherence thresholds in older adults. Crucially, we add correlational data showing that global motion perception declines linearly as a function of age. The associated fNIRS recordings provide a clear physiological correlate of global motion perception. The crux of this study lies in the robust linear correlation between age and haemodynamic response for both measures of oxygenation. We hypothesise that there is an increase in neural recruitment, necessitating an increase in metabolic need and blood flow, which presents as a higher oxygenated haemoglobin response. We report age-related changes in motion perception with poorer behavioural performance (high motion coherence thresholds) associated with an increased haemodynamic response.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10013
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018


  • ageing
  • Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy
  • haemodynamic and perceptual responses
  • global motion coherence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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