It is well known that pro- and antisaccades may deploy different cognitive processes. However, the specific reason why antisaccades have longer latencies than prosaccades is still under debate. In three experiments, we studied the factors contributing to the antisaccade cost by taking attentional orienting and target location probabilities into account. In experiment 1, using a new antisaccade paradigm, we directly tested Olk and Kingstone's hypothesis, which attributes longer antisaccade latency to the time it takes to reorient from the visual target to the opposite saccadic target. By eliminating the reorienting component in our paradigm, we found no significant difference between the latencies of the two saccade types. In experiment 2, we varied the proportion of prosaccades made to certain locations and found that latencies in the high location-probability (75%) condition were faster than those in the low location-probability condition. Moreover, antisaccade latencies were significantly longer when location probability was high. This pattern can be explained by the notion of competing pathways for pro- and antisaccades in findings of others. In experiment 3, we further explored the degrees of modulation of location probability by decreasing the magnitude of high probability from 75 to 65%. We again observed a pattern similar to that seen in experiment 2 but with smaller modulation effects. Together, these experiments indicate that the reorienting process is a critical factor in producing the antisaccade cost. Furthermore, the antisaccade cost can be modulated by probabilistic contextual information such as location probabilities.
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