The contribution of oculomotor functions to rates of visual information processing in younger and older adults Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Oculomotor functions are established surrogate measures of visual attention shifting and rate of information processing, however, the temporal characteristics of saccades and fixations have seldom been compared in healthy educated samples of younger and older adults. Thus, the current study aimed to compare duration of eye movement components in younger (18-25 years) and older (50-81 years) adults during text reading and during object/alphanumeric Rapid Automatic Naming (RAN) tasks. The current study also aimed to examine the contribution of oculomotor functions to threshold time needed for accurate performance on visually-driven cognitive tasks (Inspection Time [IT] and Change Detection [CD]). Results showed that younger adults fixated on individual stimuli for significantly longer than the older participants, while older adults demonstrated significantly longer saccade durations than the younger group. Results also demonstrated that older adults required longer threshold durations (i.e., performed slower) on the visually-driven cognitive tasks, however, the age-group time difference on the CD task was eradicated when the effects of saccade duration were covaried. Thus, these results suggest that age-related cognitive decline is also related to increased duration of saccades and hence, highlights the need to dissociate the age-related motor constraints on the temporal aspects of oculomotor function from visuo-cognitive speed of processing.

publication date

  • 2020