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Jay Pratt, Naseem Al-Aidroos, Karen Campbell, Lynn Hasher; Older adults just can't look away: Age-related changes in saccadic trajectory curvature. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):932. doi: 10.1167/8.6.932.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
There is considerable evidence that the ability to inhibit irrelevant information declines as people grow older. In the present research we investigated whether such an inhibitory deficit extends to the systems responsible for the control of saccadic eye movements. Participants made saccades to a visual target that appeared concurrently with a distractor, and saccadic latencies and trajectories were recorded. Consistent with earlier findings, younger adult's early-onset saccades curved towards the distractor (as the distractor competed with the target for response selection) while late-onset saccades curved away from the distractor (as the distractor location became inhibited over time). In contrast, older adults' saccades always curved towards the distractor, indicating they were unable to inhibit the distractor in the same manner as the younger adults. This demonstrates that, as people age, they lose the ability to prevent their eyes from being drawn to irrelevant visual distractors. As the location of gaze plays a dominant role in determining what information in the visual field is processed, this finding has important implications for changes in the efficiency of visual processing with age.
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