Stronger saccadic suppression of displacement and blanking effect in children.
ABSTRACT: Humans do not notice small displacements to objects that occur during saccades, termed saccadic suppression of displacement (SSD), and this effect is reduced when a blank is introduced between the pre- and postsaccadic stimulus (Bridgeman, Hendry, & Stark, 1975; Deubel, Schneider, & Bridgeman, 1996). While these effects have been studied extensively in adults, it is unclear how these phenomena are characterized in children. A potentially related mechanism, saccadic suppression of contrast sensitivity-a prerequisite to achieve a stable percept-is stronger for children (Bruno, Brambati, Perani, & Morrone, 2006). However, the evidence for how transsaccadic stimulus displacements may be suppressed or integrated is mixed. While they can integrate basic visual feature information from an early age, they cannot integrate multisensory information (Gori, Viva, Sandini, & Burr, 2008; Nardini, Jones, Bedford, & Braddick, 2008), suggesting a failure in the ability to integrate more complex sensory information. We tested children 7 to 12 years old and adults 19 to 23 years old on their ability to perceive intrasaccadic stimulus displacements, with and without a postsaccadic blank. Results showed that children had stronger SSD than adults and a larger blanking effect. Children also had larger undershoots and more variability in their initial saccade endpoints, indicating greater intrinsic uncertainty, and they were faster in executing corrective saccades to account for these errors. Together, these results suggest that children may have a greater internal expectation or prediction of saccade error than adults; thus, the stronger SSD in children may be due to higher intrinsic uncertainty in target localization or saccade execution.
Project description:To establish a perceptually stable world despite the large retinal shifts caused by saccadic eye movements, the visual system reduces its sensitivity to the displacement of visual stimuli during saccades (e.g. saccadic suppression of displacement, SSD). Previous studies have demonstrated that inserting a temporal blank right after a saccade improves displacement detection performance. This 'blanking effect' suggests that visual information right after the saccade may play an important role in SSD. To understand the mechanisms underlying SSD, we here compare the effect of pre- and post-saccadic stimulus contrast on displacement detection during a saccade with and without inserting a blank. Our results show that observers' sensitivity to detect visual displacement was reduced by increasing post-saccadic stimulus contrast, but a blank relieves the impairment. We successfully explain the results with a model proposing that parvo-pathway signals suppress the magno-pathway processes responsible for detecting displacements across saccades. Our results suggest that the suppression of the magno-pathway by parvo-pathway signals immediately after a saccade causes SSD, which helps to achieve the perceptual stability of the visual world across saccades.
Project description:Humans are able to integrate pre- and postsaccadic percepts of an object across saccades to maintain perceptual stability. Previous studies have used Maximum Likelihood Estimation (MLE) to determine that integration occurs in a near-optimal manner. Here, we compared three different models to investigate the mechanism of integration in more detail: an early noise model, where noise is added to the pre- and postsaccadic signals before integration occurs; a late-noise model, where noise is added to the integrated signal after integration occurs; and a temporal summation model, where integration benefits arise from the longer transsaccadic presentation duration compared to pre- and postsaccadic presentation only. We also measured spatiotemporal aspects of integration to determine whether integration can occur for very brief stimulus durations, across two hemifields, and in spatiotopic and retinotopic coordinates. Pre-, post-, and transsaccadic performance was measured at different stimulus presentation durations, both at the saccade target and a location where the pre- and postsaccadic stimuli were presented in different hemifields across the saccade. Results showed that for both within- and between-hemifields conditions, integration could occur when pre- and postsaccadic stimuli were presented only briefly, and that the pattern of integration followed an early noise model. Whereas integration occurred when the pre- and post-saccadic stimuli were presented in the same spatiotopic coordinates, there was no integration when they were presented in the same retinotopic coordinates. This contrast suggests that transsaccadic integration is limited by early, independent, sensory noise acting separately on pre- and postsaccadic signals.
Project description:Perception of a stable visual world despite eye motion requires integration of visual information across saccadic eye movements. To investigate how the visual system deals with localization of moving visual stimuli across saccades, we observed spatiotemporal changes of receptive fields (RFs) of motion-sensitive neurons across periods of saccades in the middle temporal (MT) and medial superior temporal (MST) areas. We found that the location of the RFs moved with shifts of eye position due to saccades, indicating that motion-sensitive neurons in both areas have retinotopic RFs across saccades. Different characteristic responses emerged when the moving visual stimulus was turned off before the saccades. For MT neurons, virtually no response was observed after the saccade, suggesting that the responses of these neurons simply reflect the reafferent visual information. In contrast, most MST neurons increased their firing rates when a saccade brought the location of the visual stimulus into their RFs, where the visual stimulus itself no longer existed. These findings suggest that the responses of such MST neurons after saccades were evoked by a memory of the stimulus that had preexisted in the postsaccadic RFs ("memory remapping"). A delayed-saccade paradigm further revealed that memory remapping in MST was linked to the saccade itself, rather than to a shift in attention. Thus, the visual motion information across saccades was integrated in spatiotopic coordinates and represented in the activity of MST neurons. This is likely to contribute to the perception of a stable visual world in the presence of eye movements.
Project description:Control of saccadic gain is often viewed as a simple compensatory process in which gain is adjusted over many trials by the postsaccadic retinal error, thereby maintaining saccadic accuracy. Here, we propose that gain might also be changed by a reinforcement process not requiring a visual error. To test this hypothesis, we used experimental paradigms in which retinal error was removed by extinguishing the target at the start of each saccade and either an auditory tone or the vision of the target on the fovea was provided as reinforcement after those saccades that met an amplitude criterion. These reinforcement procedures caused a progressive change in saccade amplitude in nearly all subjects, although the rate of adaptation differed greatly among subjects. When we reversed the contingencies and reinforced those saccades landing closer to the original target location, saccade gain changed back toward normal gain in most subjects. When subjects had saccades adapted first by reinforcement and a week later by conventional intrasaccadic step adaptation, both paradigms yielded similar degrees of gain changes and similar transfer to new amplitudes and to new starting positions of the target step as well as comparable rates of recovery. We interpret these changes in saccadic gain in the absence of postsaccadic retinal error as showing that saccade adaptation is not controlled by a single error signal. More generally, our findings suggest that normal saccade adaptation might involve general learning mechanisms rather than only specialized mechanisms for motor calibration.
Project description:Whenever we move our eyes, some visual information obtained before a saccade is combined with the visual information obtained after a saccade. Interestingly, saccades rarely land exactly on the saccade target, which may pose a problem for transsaccadic perception as it could affect the quality of postsaccadic input. Recently, however, we showed that transsaccadic feature integration is actually unaffected by deviations of saccade landing points. Possibly, transsaccadic integration remains unaffected because the presaccadic shift of attention follows the intended saccade target and not the actual saccade landing point during regular saccades. Here, we investigated whether saccade landing point errors can in fact alter transsaccadic perception when the presaccadic shift of attention follows the saccade landing point deviation. Given that saccadic adaptation not only changes the saccade vector, but also the presaccadic shift of attention, we combined a feature report paradigm with saccadic adaptation. Observers reported the color of the saccade target, which occasionally changed slightly during a saccade to the target. This task was performed before and after saccadic adaptation. The results showed that, after adaptation, presaccadic color information became less precise and transsaccadic perception had a stronger reliance on the postsaccadic color estimate. Therefore, although previous studies have shown that transsaccadic perception is generally unaffected by saccade landing point deviations, our results reveal that this cannot be considered a general property of the visual system. When presaccadic shifts of attention follow altered saccade landing points, transsaccadic perception is affected, suggesting that transsaccadic feature perception might be dependent on visual spatial attention.
Project description:Relatively little is known about visual processing during free-viewing visual search in realistic dynamic environments. Free-viewing is characterized by frequent saccades. During saccades, visual processing is thought to be suppressed, yet we know that the presaccadic visual content can modulate postsaccadic processing. To better understand these processes in a realistic setting, we study here saccades and neural responses elicited by the appearance of visual targets in a realistic virtual environment. While subjects were being driven through a 3D virtual town, they were asked to discriminate between targets that appear on the road. Using a system identification approach, we separated overlapping and correlated activity evoked by visual targets, saccades, and button presses. We found that the presence of a target enhances early occipital as well as late frontocentral saccade-related responses. The earlier potential, shortly after 125 ms post-saccade onset, was enhanced for targets that appeared in the peripheral vision as compared to the central vision, suggesting that fast peripheral processing initiated before saccade onset. The later potential, at 195 ms post-saccade onset, was strongly modulated by the visibility of the target. Together these results suggest that, during natural viewing, neural processing of the presaccadic visual stimulus continues throughout the saccade, apparently unencumbered by saccadic suppression.
Project description:Across saccades, small displacements of a visual target are harder to detect and their directions more difficult to discriminate than during steady fixation. Prominent theories of this effect, known as saccadic suppression of displacement, propose that it is due to a bias to assume object stability across saccades. Recent studies comparing the saccadic effect to masking effects suggest that suppression of displacement is not saccade-specific. Further evidence for this account is presented from two experiments where participants judged the size of displacements on a continuous scale in saccade and mask conditions, with and without blanking. Saccades and masks both reduced the proportion of correctly perceived displacements and increased the proportion of missed displacements. Blanking improved performance in both conditions by reducing the proportion of missed displacements. Thus, if suppression of displacement reflects a bias for stability, it is not a saccade-specific bias, but a more general stability assumption revealed under conditions of impoverished vision. Specifically, I discuss the potentially decisive role of motion or other transient signals for displacement perception. Without transients or motion, the quality of relative position signals is poor, and saccadic and mask-induced suppression of displacement reflects performance when the decision has to be made on these signals alone. Blanking may improve those position signals by providing a transient onset or a longer time to encode the pre-saccadic target position.
Project description:Across saccades, humans can integrate the low-resolution presaccadic information of an upcoming saccade target with the high-resolution postsaccadic information. There is converging evidence to suggest that transsaccadic integration occurs at the saccade target. However, given divergent evidence on the spatial specificity of related mechanisms such as attention, visual working memory, and remapping, it is unclear whether integration is also possible at locations other than the saccade target. We tested the spatial profile of transsaccadic integration, by testing perceptual performance at six locations around the saccade target and between the saccade target and initial fixation. Results show that integration benefits do not differ between the saccade target and surrounding locations. Transsaccadic integration benefits are not specific to the saccade target and can occur at other locations when they are behaviorally relevant, although there is a trend for worse performance for the location above initial fixation compared with those in the direction of the saccade. This suggests that transsaccadic integration may be a more general mechanism used to reconcile task-relevant pre- and postsaccadic information at attended locations other than the saccade target.<b>NEW & NOTEWORTHY</b> This study shows that integration of pre- and postsaccadic information across saccades is not restricted to the saccade target. We found performance benefits of transsaccadic integration at attended locations other than the saccade target, and these benefits did not differ from those found at the saccade target. This suggests that transsaccadic integration may be a more general mechanism used to reconcile pre- and postsaccadic information at task-relevant locations.
Project description:Although our eyes are in constant movement, we remain unaware of the high-speed stimulation produced by the retinal displacement. Vision is drastically reduced at the time of saccades. Here, I investigated whether the reduction of the unwanted disturbance could be established through a saccade-contingent habituation to intra-saccadic displacements. In more than 100 context trials, participants were exposed either to an intra-saccadic or to a post-saccadic disturbance or to no disturbance at all. After induction of a specific context, I measured peri-saccadic suppression. Displacement discrimination thresholds of observers were high after participants were exposed to an intra-saccadic disturbance. However, after exposure to a post-saccadic disturbance or a context without any intra-saccadic stimulation, displacement discrimination improved such that observers were able to see shifts as during fixation. Saccade-contingent habituation might explain why we do not perceive trans-saccadic retinal stimulation during saccades.
Project description:Visual perception is introspectively stable and continuous across eye movements. It has been hypothesized that displacements in retinal input caused by eye movements can be dissociated from displacements in the external world using extra-retinal information, such as a corollary discharge from the oculomotor system. The extra-retinal information can inform the visual system about an upcoming eye movement and accompanying displacements in retinal input. The parietal cortex has been hypothesized to be critically involved in integrating retinal and extra-retinal information. Two tasks have been widely used to assess the quality of this integration: double-step saccades and intra-saccadic displacements. Double-step saccades performed by patients with parietal cortex lesions seemed to show hypometric second saccades. However, recently idea has been refuted by demonstrating that patients with very similar lesions were able to perform the double step saccades, albeit taking multiple saccades to reach the saccade target. So, it seems that extra-retinal information is still available for saccade execution after a lesion to the parietal lobe. Here, we investigated whether extra-retinal signals are also available for perceptual judgements in nine patients with strokes affecting the posterior parietal cortex. We assessed perceptual continuity with the intra-saccadic displacement task. We exploited the increased sensitivity when a small temporal blank is introduced after saccade offset (blank effect). The blank effect is thought to reflect the availability of extra-retinal signals for perceptual judgements. Although patients exhibited a relative difference to control subjects, they still demonstrated the blank effect. The data suggest that a lesion to the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) alters the processing of extra-retinal signals but does not abolish their influence altogether.