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Soazig Casteau, Françoise Vitu; On the effect of remote and proximal distractors on saccadic behavior: A challenge to neural-field models. Journal of Vision 2012;12(12):14. doi: 10.1167/12.12.14.
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Two proposals have been made to account for the generation of saccadic eye movements. The first assumes that when the eyes move is under the control of a fixation gating system. The second attributes the decisions of both when and where the eyes move to the interplay between short-range excitatory and long-range inhibitory interactions within the motor map of the superior colliculus (SC). To distinguish both views, three behavioral experiments conducted on human participants tested the respective contributions of stimulus eccentricity and interstimulus distance on the effects of remote and proximal distractors on the latency and accuracy of saccades. Experiment 1 showed that the saccade-latency increase that results from the presentation of a remote distractor in the contralateral, nontarget hemifield varies with the ratio of distractor-to-target eccentricity, but not the interstimulus distance in visual or collicular space, thus indicating that the effect is not due to long-range inhibition. Experiments 2a and 2b showed that short-range excitation does not underlie the effect of proximal, ipsilateral distractors. Proximal distractors do not systematically shorten saccade latency, but rather show a range of effects (from a latency increase to no effect and then facilitation) as the ratio of distractor-to-target eccentricity increases, while deviating the eyes to gradually larger extents. The present findings strongly challenge the neural-field account, while suggesting that when a saccade is initiated depends mainly on the activity of a fixation gating system.
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