Brain control of antisaccades and prosaccades in children and adults

John E. Richards, Department of Psychology, University of South Carolina

A task that is closely related to brain activity is the prosaccade-antisaccade task. A stimulus is presented in the center and then a target is presented in the periphery. Depending on the instructions, or cues, or central stimulus, the participant moves their eyes toward the target (prosaccade) or away from the target to the opposite side (antisaccade). I have shown in two studies that attention cueing (spatial cues) and movement cues (type of movement) will facilitate the latency of the eye movement toward the appropriate location. Attention cueing is accompanied by enhanced activities in brain areas associated with spatial attention (e.g., extrastriate occipital cortex), whereas movement cueing enhances brain areas associated with eye movement control (frontal eye fields; prefrontal cortex; frontal pole).

Currently, I am doing a study with adolescents. During adolescence there are differential rates of development of the brain areas associated with attention cueing and movement cueing. The occipital cortex seems to develop to adult levels of functioning more quickly than frontal cortex. This differential development is seen most strongly during adolescence when prefrontal cortex and associated voluntary control shows more rapid development. The current study tests children from age 10 to 18, and college-age participants, in a prosaccade-antisaccade task. I expect to find changes in the eye movement latencies across this age range that are closely associated with brain area, differential effect of cueing on eye movement latency, and differential brain activity depending on cueing type.