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Annegret Meermeier, Svenja Gremmler, Markus Lappe; The influence of image content on oculomotor plasticity. Journal of Vision 2016;16(8):17. doi: 10.1167/16.8.17.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
When we observe a scene, we shift our gaze to different points of interest via saccadic eye movements. Saccades provide high resolution views of objects and are essential for vision. The successful view of an interesting target might constitute a rewarding experience to the oculomotor system. We measured the influence of image content on learning efficiency in saccade control. We compared meaningful pictures to luminance and spatial frequency–matched random noise images in a saccadic adaptation paradigm. In this paradigm a shift of the target during the saccades results in a gradual increase of saccade amplitude. Stimuli were masked at different times after saccade onset. For immediate masking of the stimuli, as well as for their permanent visibility, saccadic adaptation was similar for both types of targets. However, when stimuli were masked 200 ms after saccade onset, adaptation of saccades directed toward the meaningful target stimuli was significantly greater than that of saccades directed toward noise targets. Thus, the percept of a meaningful image at the saccade landing position facilitates learning of the appropriate parameters for saccadic motor control when time constraints exist. We conclude that oculomotor learning, which is traditionally considered a low-level and highly automatized process, is modulated by the visual content of the image.
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