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Behavioral plasticity of antisaccade performance following daily practice

Authors: Dyckman KA, McDowell JE.

Organization: Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens GA, USA

Journal: Exp Brain Res. 2005 Mar;162(1):63-9. Epub 2004 Nov 13.


The ability to change behavior to adapt to the environment, known as behavioral plasticity, is an important part of daily life. In the present study subjectsrsquo performances on antisaccade tasks were manipulated by training them on one of three different eye movement tasks (antisaccade, prosaccade, and fixation). Thirty subjects were tested at three time points over a 2-week period and practiced their assigned task every day between test sessions. Subjects who trained on antisaccades significantly decreased their error rates, while maintaining their reaction time, suggesting that accuracy did not improve at the expense of speed. Subjects who practiced the prosaccade task made more errors on the antisaccade task on subsequent test sessions, while those who practiced the fixation task showed no change across test sessions. These results suggest that deliberate practice of eye movement tasks can alter antisaccade performance, and that the direction of the effect is dependent upon the type of practice in which the subject engages.

Keywords: Antisaccade - Prosaccade - Fixation - Plasticity - Practice effects

Subitizing: Vision therapy for math deficits

Authors: Sidney Groffman OD, MA, FCOVD

Organization: SUNY College of Optometry, New York, USA

Journal: Optom Vis Dev 2009;40(4):229-238.


Subitizing is the immediate visual perceptual apprehension and enumeration of a small set of elements. Subitizing deficits are correlated with difficulty in math at all ages. The incidence of individuals with mathematics learning disability (MLD) is between 6-7% of the population. This is unfortunate because math skills are of prime importance in everyday life enabling us to understand number concepts and do calculations. Math ability is essential for many occupations and professions. Subitizing is a basic skill that young children and many animals exhibit. Subitizing has been shown to be a precursor of math skills. A subitizing computer program has been designed and based upon theories and experimental data appropriate for improving math skills. It consists of a diagnostic test and four therapy programs: Flash-Number, Comparison-Spatial, Visual Counting, and Temporal Visual Counting. Subitizing therapy appears to improve both subitizing and math abilities.

Keywords: subitizing, math, dyscalculia learning disability

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Improving antisaccade performance in adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Authors: Canan Karatekin

Organization: Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.

Journal: Exp Brain Res. Volume 174, Number 2 / September 2006.


The goal of the study was to examine the effects of task manipulations on antisaccade accuracy and response times (RTs) of adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), age-matched controls, 10-year-olds and young adults. Order effects were tested by administering the task at the beginning and end of the session. Other manipulations involved a visual landmark to reduce demands on working memory and internal generation of saccades; spatially specific and non-specific cues at three intervals; and central engagement of attention through perceptual and cognitive means at three intervals. As expected, adolescents with ADHD were impaired relative to age-matched controls in terms of accuracy and saccadic RT on the first administration of the task. Although their accuracy improved with most of the manipulations, it did not improve disproportionately compared to age-matched controls. Nevertheless, with most of the manipulations, they could achieve the same level of accuracy as unaided controls on the first administration of the task. In contrast, the saccadic RTs of the ADHD group came close to normal under several conditions, indicating that elevated antisaccade RTs in this disorder may be related to attentional factors. The ADHD group made more premature saccades and fewer corrective saccades than both the age-matched and younger groups, suggesting difficulties with impulsivity and goal neglect. The findings suggest that cognitive scaffolds can ameliorate at least some of the inhibition deficits in adolescents with ADHD.

Keywords: Antisaccades - Attention - Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder - Inhibition - Development

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