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Vision Res. 2006 Mar;46(5):751-9. Epub 2005 Oct 17.

Prolongation of latency of horizontal saccades in elderly is distance and task specific.

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Laboratoire de Physiologie de la Perception et de l'Action. LPPA, UMR 7152, CNRS-Coll├Ęge de France, Paris.


The present study examined horizontal saccades in healthy subjects: 9 adults (20-32 years) and 10 aged subjects (63-83 years), under gap (fixation target extinguishes prior to target onset) and overlap (fixation stays on after target onset). The gap paradigm is known to promote fast initiation of saccades while the overlap paradigm promotes voluntary saccades with longer latency. In real life we perform saccades at various distances. In this study each paradigm was run at three viewing distances-20, 40 and 150 cm, corresponding to a convergence angle of 17.1 degrees, 8.6 degrees and 2.3 degrees, respectively. Eye movements were recorded with the Chronos video eye tracker or with the photoelectric IRIS. The main findings are: (i) increase in latency of saccades with age, with distance and with the overlap condition; (ii) evidence for interaction between these factors, indicating the following anomaly: in the gap condition and at near, aged subjects show short latencies similar to those of young adults; (iii) express type of latencies (between 80 and 120 ms) occur most frequently at near in the gap condition and at similar rates in young (25%) and aged subjects (20%). The specificity of close distance combined with the gap for triggering short latency saccades could be related to both attention and oculomotor fixation disengagement. The strength of coupling between fixation-eye movement control and visual attention control varies for different locations in space, and its decline with aging can be also different.

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