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The disengagement of visual attention: an eye-tracking study of cognitive impairment, ethnicity and age

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posted on 21.07.2020 by Megan Polden, Thom Wilcockson, Trevor J Crawford
Various studies have shown that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is associated with an impairment of inhibitory control, although we do not have a comprehensive understanding of the associated cognitive processes. The ability to engage and disengage attention is a crucial cognitive operation of inhibitory control and can be readily investigated using the “gap effect” in a saccadic eye movement paradigm. In previous work, various demographic factors were confounded; therefore, here, we examine separately the effects of cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease, ethnicity/culture and age. This study included young (N = 44) and old (N = 96) European participants, AD (N = 32), mildly cognitively impaired participants (MCI: N = 47) and South Asian older adults (N = 94). A clear reduction in the mean reaction times was detected in all the participant groups in the gap condition compared to the overlap condition, confirming the effect. Importantly, this effect was also preserved in participants with MCI and AD. A strong effect of age was also evident, revealing a slowing in the disengagement of attention during the natural process of ageing.

Funding

EPSRC Grant EP/M006255/1

Sir John Fisher Foundation

History

School

  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

Brain Sciences

Volume

10

Issue

7

Publisher

MDPI AG

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Acceptance date

14/07/2020

Publication date

2020-07-18

Copyright date

2020

eISSN

2076-3425

Language

en

Depositor

Dr Thom Wilcockson. Deposit date: 21 July 2020

Article number

461

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