Saccadic velocity and activation: development of a diagnostic tool for assessing energy regulation
The hypothesis was tested that peak velocity of saccadic eye movements in visual motor tasks varies with variables related to energy regulation. The hypothesis is based on the cognitive-energetical performance model of Sanders. An experimental paradigm was developed in which saccadic peak velocity of task-relevant eye movements is measured while a choice reaction task is carried out. Confounding factors of saccadic amplitude and movement direction were controlled. The task was designed in such a way that in each trial subjects performed a target saccade towards an imperative stimulus and a return saccade after the manual response back to the centre of the screen. For both types of saccades the experimental variables were foreperiod duration (short versus long), knowledge of results (with versus without), postsaccadic demand (low versus high) and time on task (five 30-min intervals). In two experiments, there are main and interaction effects of the task variables on peak saccadic velocity. Return saccades are slower than target saccades, but not in the case of high postsaccadic demand. Knowledge of results increases peak saccadic velocity, but more so for return than for target saccades. Time on task leads to a decrease in peak saccadic velocity, which is much stronger for return than for target saccades; furthermore this effect is more pronounced after short than after long foreperiods. Peak saccadic velocity is changed within seconds. The results support the hypothesis. Peak saccadic velocity of task related eye movements reflects energy regulation during task performance. The paradigm will be developed as a diagnostic tool in workload measurement.