Attention control and the antisaccade task: A response time distribution analysis

Nash Unsworth, Gregory J. Spillers, Gene A. Brewer, Brittany McMillan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


In three experiments response time (RT) differences between correct prosaccade and antisaccade trials were examined via distribution analyses by fitting an ex-Gaussian function to individual RT distributions. Experiment 1 demonstrated that antisaccades are slower than prosaccades and this difference is due to both a shift in the overall distribution as well as a lengthening of the tail of the distribution. Experiment 2 demonstrated that manipulating foreperiod duration led to changes in both accuracy and RT for antisaccades but not prosaccades. Furthermore, the change in RT for antisaccades resulted in a lengthening in the tail of the distribution but not a shift in the distribution. Finally, Experiment 3 demonstrated that with sufficient practice performance on antisaccades was equated with performance on prosaccades in terms of both accuracy and RT. An examination of the RT distributions suggested that practice led to parallel changes in both the mean of the distribution and the tail of the antisaccade distribution. These results are interpreted within a two-factor theory of attention control that suggests that performance on antisaccades is driven by both competition resolution and goal-maintenance abilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-100
Number of pages11
JournalActa psychologica
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Antisaccade
  • Attention control
  • Response time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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