Effects of age on latency and error generation in internally mediated saccades

Neurobiol Aging. 2007 Apr;28(4):627-37. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2006.02.003. Epub 2006 Mar 15.


Most studies on the effects of ageing on saccades have examined reflexive saccades; the only commonly studied volitional task has been the antisaccade task, with contradictory results. We examined in both young and elderly normal subjects the latency of anti-, memory-guided, and predictable saccades and the timing of self-paced saccades; we also evaluated errors made on the first two tasks. We expected errors to be correlated between tasks; we also expected antisaccade latencies and errors to be inversely correlated. We also expected antisaccade and memory-guided saccade latencies to be longer in individuals with a high self-paced rate. Except for predictable saccades, mean latencies were significantly higher in the elderly. However, their performance was more variable. Errors were also significantly more frequent on anti- and memory-guided saccade tasks. Most of the hypothesised correlations were not observed. Analysis of error latencies showed that whilst most antisaccade errors were reflexive, for memory-guided saccades both express errors and errors with latencies between 0.4 and 2.5 s were observed. The latter appeared to be a premature release of what would otherwise have been a properly planned response. Age thus impaired all but the predictable saccade task; nevertheless, there were few relationships between measures across tasks. This suggests that a range of processes mediate peoples' performance on these saccade paradigms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric