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Artem Belopolsky, Stefan Van der Stigchel; Implicit memory representations in the oculomotor system. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):302. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.9.302.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Humans tend to create and maintain internal visual representations of the environment that help guiding actions during the everyday activities. These representations range in their complexity from implicit memory to long-term memory. Recent studies have proposed that the oculomotor system might be critically involved in coding and maintenance of locations in memory. For example, saccade trajectories were found to curve away from a location kept in visual-spatial working memory. Furthermore, when participants were asked to memorize two locations, and then later select one location for further maintenance from that internal representation, saccades curved away from the ultimately remembered location. This suggests that the oculomotor system is flexibly used for coding to-be-remembered locations that are no longer present in the outside world. In the present study we investigated whether implicit memory representations are also rooted in the oculomotor system. Implicit memory representations are created without awareness as a result of a selection episode. To test this idea participants had to perform a simple task of making a saccade towards a predefined direction. On two-thirds of the trials an irrelevant distractor was presented unpredictably left or right from the fixation. On one-third of the trials no distractor was present. The results show that on the trials without a distractor, saccades curved away from the location that was occupied by a distractor on the previous trial. In a follow-up experiment this result was replicated and extended to cases when different saccade directions were used. In addition, we show that repetition of distractor location on the distractor present trials also results in a stronger curvature away. Taken together these results provide strong evidence that the oculomotor system automatically and implicitly codes and maintains locations that had been selected in the past, which biases future behavior.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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