The incidence of early brain injury in children is rising, mainly because of changing reproductive demographics and better perinatal care. Early brain injury may be associated with altered visual perception and visuospatial attention. The useful field of view test (UFOV) has been developed to assess visual attention and processing speed in the elderly. The UFOV may have utility in the evaluation of children with early brain injury. The aim of this study was to collect age-specific normative data for the UFOV test.
Subjects were recruited from visitors at Glasgow Science Centre. One hundred thirty-five healthy children and young adults were tested (range: 5–22 years). After a comprehensive visual screening to establish normal visual function, all three subtests of the UFOV (1: Processing Speed; 2: Divided Attention; 3: Selective Attention) were performed.
All the children were able to understand and complete all subtests. UFOV scores improved monotonically with age, for all subtests, throughout the primary school years, with subtest 3 showing the greatest improvement. By age 14, UFOV scores had reached adult levels.
UFOV performance shows measurable improvement during middle to late childhood, as has been previously found for abilities such as visual acuity. This is a simple test, which was easily understood and performed by all children in the study. Thus, we believe that our results are suggestive of continuing development in visual attention and processing during this period.
The UFOV is an objective, standardized computer-based test of visual attention. This study indicates suitability for use with children. It remains to be determined how successful this test proves to be in discriminating between normal children and those with early brain injury.