Suppression of reflexive saccades in younger and older adults: age comparisons on an antisaccade task

Mem Cognit. 1999 Jul;27(4):584-91. doi: 10.3758/bf03211552.


Inhibitory control of prepotent responses has been examined by using the antisaccade task, during which a reflexive saccade toward a peripheral onset must be suppressed before an eye movement in the opposite direction from the onset can be executed. In the present experiments, we sought to determine whether older and younger adults would perform similarly on this task. Older adults had a harder time suppressing their reflexive responses, as measured by an increase in the proportion of saccade direction errors. Despite an age-related decline in saccade direction accuracy, the increase in saccade latency associated with the antisaccade condition was the same for both younger and older adults. These results support the view that the effectiveness of inhibitory control declines with age (Hasher & Zacks, 1988; Hasher, Zacks, & May, 1999).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reflex / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*