Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 237, Issue 12, pp 3475–3484 | Cite as

Pro- and antisaccade task-switching: response suppression—and not vector inversion—contributes to a task-set inertia

  • Benjamin Tari
  • Matthew HeathEmail author
Research Article


Alternating between different tasks represents an executive function essential to activities of daily living. In the oculomotor literature, reaction times (RT) for a ‘standard’ and stimulus-driven (SD) prosaccade (i.e., saccade to target at target onset) are increased when preceded by a ‘non-standard’ antisaccade (i.e., saccade mirror-symmetrical to target at target onset), whereas the converse switch does not elicit an RT cost. The prosaccade switch-cost has been attributed to lingering neural activity—or task-set inertia—related to the antisaccade executive demands of response suppression and vector inversion. It is, however, unclear whether response suppression and/or vector inversion contribute to the prosaccade switch-cost. Experiment 1 of the present work had participants alternate (i.e., AABB paradigm) between minimally delayed (MD) pro- and antisaccades. MD saccades require a response after target extinction and necessitate response suppression for both pro- and antisaccades—a paradigm providing a framework to determine whether vector inversion contributes to a task-set inertia. In Experiment 2, participants alternated between SD pro- and MD antisaccades—a paradigm designed to determine if a switch-cost is selectively imparted when a SD and standard response is preceded by a non-standard response. Experiment 1 showed that RTs for MD pro- and antisaccades were refractory to the preceding trial-type; that is, vector inversion did not engender a switch-cost. Experiment 2 indicated that RTs for SD prosaccades were increased when preceded by an MD antisaccade. Accordingly, response suppression engenders a task-set inertia but only for a subsequent stimulus-driven and standard response (i.e., SD prosaccade). Such a result is in line with the view that response suppression is a hallmark feature of executive function.


Executive function Oculomotor Response suppression Task-switching 



This work was supported by a Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, and Faculty Scholar and Major Academic Development Fund Awards from the University of Western Ontario. The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of KinesiologyThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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