Luis Andres Lesmes, Zhong-Lin Lu, Jongsoo Baek, and Thomas D. Albright


The contrast sensitivity function (CSF) predicts functional vision better than acuity, but long testing times prevent its psychophysical assessment in clinical and practical applications. This study presents the quick CSF (qCSF) method, a Bayesian adaptive procedure that applies a strategy developed to estimate multiple parameters of the psychometric function (A. B. Cobo-Lewis, 1996; L. L. Kontsevich & C. W. Tyler, 1999). Before each trial, a one-step-ahead search finds the grating stimulus (defined by frequency and contrast) that maximizes the expected information gain (J. V. Kujala & T. J. Lukka, 2006; L. A. Lesmes et al., 2006), about four CSF parameters. By directly estimating CSF parameters, data collected at one spatial frequency improves sensitivity estimates across all frequencies. A psychophysical study validated that CSFs obtained with 100 qCSF trials (∼10 min) exhibited good precision across spatial frequencies (SD < 2–3 dB) and excellent agreement with CSFs obtained independently (mean RMSE = 0.86 dB). To estimate the broad sensitivity metric provided by the area under the log CSF (AULCSF), only 25 trials were needed to achieve a coefficient of variation of 15–20%. The current study demonstrates the method’s value for basic and clinical investigations. Further studies, applying the qCSF to measure wider ranges of normal and abnormal vision, will determine how its efficiency translates to clinical assessment.