The effect of speed of processing training on microsaccade amplitude

Stephen Layfield, Wesley Burge, William Mitchell, Lesley Ross, Christine Denning, Frank Amthor, Kristina Visscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Older adults experience cognitive deficits that can lead to driving errors and a loss of mobility. Fortunately, some of these deficits can be ameliorated with targeted interventions which improve the speed and accuracy of simultaneous attention to a central and a peripheral stimulus called Speed of Processing training. To date, the mechanisms behind this effective training are unknown. We hypothesized that one potential mechanism underlying this training is a change in distribution of eye movements of different amplitudes. Microsaccades are small amplitude eye movements made when fixating on a stimulus, and are thought to counteract the "visual fading" that occurs when static stimuli are presented. Due to retinal anatomy, larger microsaccadic eye movements are needed to move a peripheral stimulus between receptive fields and counteract visual fading. Alternatively, larger microsaccades may decrease performance due to neural suppression. Because larger microsaccades could aid or hinder peripheral vision, we examine the distribution of microsaccades during stimulus presentation. Our results indicate that there is no statistically significant change in the proportion of large amplitude microsaccades during a Useful Field of View-like task after training in a small sample of older adults. Speed of Processing training does not appear to result in changes in microsaccade amplitude, suggesting that the mechanism underlying Speed of Processing training is unlikely to rely on microsaccades.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere107808
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 23 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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