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Rebecca M. Foerster, Elena Carbone, Hendrik Koesling, Werner X. Schneider; Saccadic eye movements in the dark while performing an automatized sequential high-speed sensorimotor task. Journal of Vision 2012;12(2):8. doi: 10.1167/12.2.8.
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Saccades during object-related everyday tasks select visual information to guide hand movements. Nevertheless, humans can perform such a task in the dark provided it was automatized beforehand. It is largely unknown whether and how saccades are executed in this case. Recently, a long-term memory (LTM)-based direct control mode of attention during the execution of well-learned sensorimotor tasks, which predicts task-relevant saccades in the dark, was proposed (R. M. Foerster, E. Carbone, H. Koesling, & W. X. Schneider, 2011). In the present study, participants performed an automatized speed-stacking task in the dark and in the light while their eye movements were recorded. Speed stacking is a sequential high-speed sensorimotor object manipulation task. Results demonstrated that participants indeed made systematic eye movements in the dark. Saccadic scan paths and the number of fixations were highly similar across illumination conditions, while fixation rates were lower and fixation durations were longer in the dark. Importantly, the eye reached a location ahead of the hands even in the dark. Finally, neither eye–hand dynamics nor saccade accuracy correlated with hand movement durations in the dark. Results support the hypothesis of an LTM-based mode of attention selection during the execution of automatized sequential high-speed sensorimotor tasks.
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