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Timothy M. Gersch, Eileen Kowler, Brian S. Schnitzer, Barbara A. Dosher; Visual memory during pauses between successive saccades. Journal of Vision 2008;8(16):15. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/8.16.15.
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Selective attention is closely linked to eye movements. Prior to a saccade, attention shifts to the saccadic goal at the expense of surrounding locations. Such a constricted attentional field, while useful to ensure accurate saccades, constrains the spatial range of high-quality perceptual analysis. The present study showed that attention could be allocated to locations other than the saccadic goal without disrupting the ongoing pattern of saccades. Saccades were made sequentially along a color-cued path. Attention was assessed by a visual memory task presented during a random pause between successive saccades. Saccadic planning had several effects on memory: (1) fewer letters were remembered during intersaccadic pauses than during maintained fixation; (2) letters appearing on the saccadic path, including locations previously examined, could be remembered; off-path performance was near chance; (3) memory was better at the saccadic target than at all other locations, including the currently fixated location. These results show that the distribution of attention during intersaccadic pauses results from a combination of top–down enhancement at the saccadic target coupled with a more automatic allocation of attention to selected display locations. This suggests that the visual system has mechanisms to control the distribution of attention without interfering with ongoing saccadic programming.
Note: a“No pre-cue” refers to trials in which the location of the letter reported at the end of the trial was not cued prior to trial start.
b“Pre-cue” refers to trials in which the location of the letter reported at the end of the trial was cued prior to trial start.
c“Total saccades” refers to all saccades except secondary, corrective saccades that followed a primary saccade to a target.
d“Error at saccadic offset” refers to vector distance between eye position at the time of saccadic offset and the center of the nearest circle.
e“Average number of targets hit per trial” refers to number of saccadic targets on the path that were successively fixated during a trial.
f“ISP” refers to the Intersaccadic Pause duration, the interval preceding each good saccade.
g“Good” refers to saccades that followed the prescribed saccadic path.
h“Skips” refers to saccades that skipped the immediately next location on the path and brought the line of sight to a subsequent on-path location.
i“Off the path” refers to saccades that brought the line of sight to a location off the prescribed path.
j“Other” refers to the remaining types of erroneous saccades (off-path to on-path locations, off-path to off-path locations, backward saccades).
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