Inhibitory inefficiency and failures of intention activation: age-related decline in the control of saccadic eye movements

Psychol Aging. 2000 Dec;15(4):635-47. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.15.4.635.


Young and older adults' control of saccadic eye movements was compared using an antisaccade task, which requires the inhibition of a reflexive saccade toward a peripheral onset cue followed by an intentional saccade in the opposite direction. In 2 experiments, an age-related decline was found in the suppression of reflexive eye movements, as indicated by an increased proportion of saccades toward the cue, and a longer time needed to initiate correct antisaccades. The results from Experiment 2 suggested that older adults' slower antisaccades may be explained partly in terms of increased failures to maintain the cue-action representation at a sufficient activation level. The results suggest that the notion of selective preservation with age of the ability to inhibit spatial responses does not apply to the active inhibition of prepotent spatial responses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reaction Time
  • Saccades*