Event Abstract

Eye movement tasks as a measure of cognitive functioning in ageing and Alzheimer's disease

  • 1 Southern Cross University, Psychology, Australia

Introduction: Early diagnosis in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is crucial to maximise early intervention efforts aimed at stabilising the degenerative process. Given neurodegeneration begins well before the manifestation of behavioural symptoms, we need more sensitive diagnostic tools to aid in early detection. Eye-movement tasks may provide such a tool as they offer a precise and non-invasive measure of cognitive functioning. Therefore the current research sought to determine if eye-movement tasks could provide an early diagnostic tool for AD. Methods: We administered an antisaccade and occulomotor capture eye-movement tasks along with a standardised neuropsychological assessment (Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status; RBANS) for adults over 48yrs (M=62.48, SD=9.20) with (n=63) and without (n=6) a diagnosis of AD. Results: Participants with AD made significantly more errors on the antisaccade (t(64)=-4.99,p<.001) and occulomotor capture tasks (t(67)=-3.33,p=.001) than controls. Those with lower scores across the five RBANS indices made more errors on both eye-movement tasks, as indicated by significant negative correlations. For the 63 participants without a diagnosis of AD, there was a significant negative relationship between antisaccade errors and the delayed memory index (r=-.28, p<.05). Furthermore, visuospatial/constructional and attention indices independently predicted occulomotor capture errors. Conclusion: Given that those with poorer performance on tests of cognitive functioning made more errors, and the higher rates of errors demonstrated by those with AD, eye-movement tasks may provide an early diagnostic tool for AD. Augmenting eye-movement tasks with standard optometrist assessments may provide a valuable means of early diagnosis.

Keywords: Saccades, antisaccade, antisaccade task, occulomotor, Capture, occulomotor task, Eye Movements, Alzheimer's disease, ageing (aging), Ageing and cognitive function

Conference: Australasian Society for Psychophysiology, Inc, Coffs Harbour, Australia, 26 Nov - 28 Nov, 2014.

Presentation Type: Poster

Topic: Psychophysiology

Citation: Smith B, Bowling A, Zhou S and Yoxall J (2014). Eye movement tasks as a measure of cognitive functioning in ageing and Alzheimer's disease. Conference Abstract: Australasian Society for Psychophysiology, Inc. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2014.216.00004

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Received: 09 Nov 2014; Published Online: 02 Dec 2014.

* Correspondence:
Ms. Belinda Smith, Southern Cross University, Psychology, Lismore, Australia, belinda.smith@scu.edu.au
Dr. Alison Bowling, Southern Cross University, Psychology, Lismore, Australia, alison.bowling@scu.edu.au
Prof. Shi Zhou, Southern Cross University, Psychology, Lismore, Australia, shi.zhou@scu.edu.au
Dr. Jacqui Yoxall, Southern Cross University, Psychology, Lismore, Australia, jacqui.yoxall@scu.edu.au