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Sabine Born, Isaline Mottet, Dirk Kerzel; Presaccadic perceptual facilitation effects depend on saccade execution: Evidence from the stop-signal paradigm. Journal of Vision 2014;14(3):7. doi: 10.1167/14.3.7.
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Prior to the onset of a saccadic eye movement, perception is facilitated at the saccade target location. This has been attributed to a shift of attention. To test whether presaccadic attention shifts are strictly dependent on saccade execution, we examined whether they are found when observers are required to cancel the eye movement. We combined a dual task with the stop-signal paradigm: Subjects made saccades as quickly as possible to a cued location while discriminating a stimulus either at the saccade target or at the opposite location. A stop signal was presented on a subset of trials, asking subjects to cancel the eye movement. The delay of the stop signal was adjusted to yield successful inhibition of the saccade in 50% of trials. Results show similar perceptual facilitation at the saccade target for saccades with or without a stop signal, suggesting that presaccadic attention shifts are obligatory for all saccades. However, there was facilitation only when saccades were actually performed, not when observers successfully inhibited them. Thus, preparing an eye movement without subsequently executing it does not result in an attention shift. The results speak to a difference between saccade preparation and saccade programming. In light of the strong dependence on saccade execution, we discuss the functional role and causes of presaccadic attention shifts.
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