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The Disengagement of Visual Attention: An EyeTracking Study of Cognitive Impairment, Ethnicity and Age

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Published
Article number460
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>18/07/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Brain Sciences
Issue number7
Volume10
Number of pages13
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

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 examined 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), mild 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 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.