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Ann Neurol. 1984 Oct;16(4):449-54.

Effect of aging on the accuracy of visually guided saccadic eye movement.


Changes in oculomotor behaviors with aging were studied in normal young and elderly subjects. Saccadic eye movements induced by presentation of a visual target were analyzed. Elderly subjects commonly showed an elongation of the time to locate the target, accompanied by an increase in reaction times (mean increase, 100 ms) and a decrease in saccadic velocities. The decrease in the velocity was particularly notable when a large-amplitude saccade was executed. In spite of the slowed motor responses, most elderly subjects preserved the function necessary to execute a correct saccade toward the visual target. The saccadic slowing was accompanied by an increase in saccade duration. Although a longer time was necessary for elderly subjects to locate the target, the accuracy of the initial saccades was not different from that of young subjects. One group of elderly subjects showed extremely long reaction times. These subjects, displaying no abnormal neurological symptoms, were not able to locate the visual target with initial saccades. They had to execute multistep saccades typically seen in patients with degenerative neurological diseases.

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