Author Information

Marlyn Colon


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys an individual’s mental functioning and social capabilities, including the ability to carry out everyday activities. Although memory deficits affect AD patients’ ability to perform these activities, research suggests that visual perception impairments also contribute. One impaired visual perception ability, contrast sensitivity, enables one to distinguish an object from its immediate surroundings. The present project measured contrast sensitivity in a real-world task by having AD patients find a pill of various shades of gray on a tiled background. Results were compared to young and elderly control participants. Participants also filled out a questionnaire examining activities of daily living (ADLs). Results demonstrated that impairments in contrast sensitivity were observed both as a function of normal aging and as a result of AD. Performance correlated with the ADLs of household care and travel for both groups. Increasing contrast in environmental settings may aid these individuals, especially AD patients, in living a more independent lifestyle.

Note on the Author

Marlyn Colon is a senior majoring in Psychology, graduating in May of 2010. This research began as a project funded by the Adrian Tinsley Program at Bridgewater State College in the summer of 2009, under the mentorship of Dr. Sandra Neargarder. Marlyn has presented her research at BSC’s Summer Symposium as well as Cognitive Aging Conference in Atlanta, GA.

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