Neural modeling of antisaccade performance of healthy controls and early Huntington's disease patients

Chaos. 2021 Jan;31(1):013121. doi: 10.1063/5.0021584.


Huntington's disease (HD), a genetically determined neurodegenerative disease, is positively correlated with eye movement abnormalities in decision making. The antisaccade conflict paradigm has been widely used to study response inhibition in eye movements, and reliable performance deficits in HD subjects have been observed, including a greater number and timing of direction errors. We recorded the error rates and response latencies of early HD patients and healthy age-matched controls performing the mirror antisaccade task. HD participants displayed slower and more variable antisaccade latencies and increased error rates relative to healthy controls. A competitive accumulator-to-threshold neural model was then employed to quantitatively simulate the controls' and patients' reaction latencies and error rates and uncover the mechanisms giving rise to the observed HD antisaccade deficits. Our simulations showed that (1) a more gradual and noisy rate of accumulation of evidence by HD patients is responsible for the observed prolonged and more variable antisaccade latencies in early HD; (2) the confidence level of early HD patients making a decision is unaffected by the disease; and (3) the antisaccade performance of healthy controls and early HD patients is the end product of a neural lateral competition (inhibition) between a correct and an erroneous decision process, and not the end product of a third top-down stop signal suppressing the erroneous decision process as many have speculated.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases*
  • Reaction Time
  • Saccades