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Jaap A. Beintema, Editha M. van Loon, Albert V. van den Berg; Manipulating saccadic decision-rate distributions in visual search. Journal of Vision 2005;5(3):1. doi: 10.1167/5.3.1.
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The Gaussian shape of reciprocal latency distributions typically found in single saccade tasks supports the idea of a race-to-threshold process underlying the decision when to saccade (R. H. Carpenter & M. L. Williams, 1995). However, second and later saccades in a visual search task revealed decision-rate (=reciprocal latency) distributions that were skewed Gamma-like (E. M. Van Loon, I. T. Hooge, & A. V. Van den Berg, 2002). Here we consider a related family of Beta-prime distributions that follows from strong competition with a signal to stop the sequence, and is described by two parameters: a fixate and saccade threshold. In three saccadic search experiments, we tried to manipulate the two thresholds independently, thereby expecting change in shape and mean of the reciprocal latency distribution. Interestingly, rate distributions for later saccades were significantly better fit by Beta-prime than by Gamma functions. Increases in the distribution’s skew were found with higher display density, but only for second and later saccades. First saccade rate distributions were not altered by the expected target location or by visual information presented prior to the search, but making pre-search saccades did influence both thresholds. The mean rate remained a stereotyped function of ordinal position in the saccade sequence. Our results support strong competition between two decision signals underlying the timing of saccades.
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