Pro- and antisaccades in children elicited by visual and acoustic targets - does modality matter?

Johanna Goepel, Stefanie C Biehl, Johanna Kissler, Isabella Paul-Jordanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Children are able to inhibit a prepotent reaction to suddenly arising visual stimuli, although this skill is not yet as pronounced as it is in adulthood. However, up to now the inhibition mechanism to acoustic stimuli has been scarcely investigated

Reflexive (prosaccade) and inhibitory (antisaccade) responses to visual and acoustic targets were examined with an eye tracker system in 31 children between seven and twelve years of age using a gap-overlap task and two target eccentricities.

Acoustically cued saccades had longer reaction times than visually cued saccades. A gap effect (i.e., shorter reaction time in the gap than the overlap condition) was only found for visually elicited saccades, whereas an eccentricity effect (i.e., faster saccades to more laterally presented targets - 12° vs. 6° or rather 90° vs. 45°) was only present in the acoustic condition. Longer reaction times of antisaccades compared to prosaccades were found only in the visual task. Across both tasks the typical pattern of elevated error rates in the antisaccade condition was found. Antisaccade errors declined with age, indicating an ongoing development of inhibitory functions.

The present results lay the ground for further studies of acoustically triggered saccades in typically as well as atypically developing children and it might thus be possible to upgrade physiological diagnostic tools.
Original languageEnglish
Article number116
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2011


  • acoustic stimulation
  • child
  • cues
  • female
  • humans
  • male
  • neuropsychological tests
  • oculomotor muscles
  • photic stimulation
  • psychomotor performance
  • reaction time
  • reference values
  • reflex
  • saccades


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