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Supriya Ray, Neha Bhutani, Aditya Murthy; Mutual inhibition and capacity sharing during parallel preparation of serial eye movements. Journal of Vision 2012;12(3):17. doi: 10.1167/12.3.17.
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Many common activities, like reading, scanning scenes, or searching for an inconspicuous item in a cluttered environment, entail serial movements of the eyes that shift the gaze from one object to another. Previous studies have shown that the primate brain is capable of programming sequential saccadic eye movements in parallel. Given that the onset of saccades directed to a target are unpredictable in individual trials, what prevents a saccade during parallel programming from being executed in the direction of the second target before execution of another saccade in the direction of the first target remains unclear. Using a computational model, here we demonstrate that sequential saccades inhibit each other and share the brain's limited processing resources (capacity) so that the planning of a saccade in the direction of the first target always finishes first. In this framework, the latency of a saccade increases linearly with the fraction of capacity allocated to the other saccade in the sequence, and exponentially with the duration of capacity sharing. Our study establishes a link between the dual-task paradigm and the ramp-to-threshold model of response time to identify a physiologically viable mechanism that preserves the serial order of saccades without compromising the speed of performance.
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