Saccadic paradigms and cognition: a review
background Saccade studies became increasingly popular. This popularity might have been due to the fact that saccade paradigms can be used for the study of various cognitive functions. For most of the paradigms, the brain mechanisms involved are very well known. The saccadic performance, therefore, provides information about the function of certain brain areas.
aims This literature study describes four widely used saccadic paradigms and the cognitive functions they assess. For each of the paradigms the factors affecting performance and the neural mechanisms involved are described .
methods Literature was selected by means of a Medline search (1970-1999).
results Within the paradigms many parameters can be varied. When comparing studies, one should take notice of these variations since they affect performance. Further, studies showed that each of the paradigms involves a unique brain mechanism.
conclusions The type of errors made on the four paradigms provides detailed information on the integrity of various cognitive functions and specific brain areas. This information is of particular interest when studying patients with brain dysfunctions which are not fully understood, like schizophrenia.