Motor skills improve with age from childhood into adulthood, and this improvement is reflected in the performance of smooth pursuit eye movements. In contrast, the saccadic system becomes mature earlier than the smooth pursuit system. Therefore, the present study investigates whether the early mature saccadic system compensates for the lower pursuit performance during childhood. To answer this question, horizontal eye movements were recorded in 58 children (ages 5-16 yr) and 16 adults (ages 23-36 yr) in a task that required the combination of smooth pursuit and saccadic eye movements. Smooth pursuit performance improved with age. However, children had larger average position error during target tracking compared with adults, but they did not execute more saccades to compensate for their low pursuit performance despite the early maturity of their saccadic system. This absence of error correction suggests that children have a lower sensitivity to visual errors compared with adults. This reduced sensitivity might stem from poor internal models and longer processing time in young children.
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