Age-related changes in antisaccade task performance: inhibitory control or working-memory engagement?

Brain Cogn. 2004 Nov;56(2):177-88. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2004.02.077.


In antisaccade tasks, subjects are required to generate a saccade in the direction opposite to the location of a sudden-onset target stimulus. Compared to young adults, older adults tend to make more reflex-like eye movements towards the target, and/or show longer saccadic onset latencies on correct direct antisaccades. To better understand the nature of these effects of aging on antisaccade performance, we examined the role of age-related deficiencies in inhibitory control vis-a-vis age changes in the engagement of working memory. Inhibitory demands were manipulated using fixation-offset conditions, while working-memory demands were manipulated by varying memory-updating requirements. The results indicate that inhibitory oculomotor functions remain largely intact with advancing age; older adults' performance breaks down only when their limited working-memory capacity is taxed by increasing updating demands.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Female
  • Field Dependence-Independence
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Saccades / physiology*