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Alain Guillaume; Saccadic inhibition is accompanied by large and complex amplitude modulations when induced by visual backward masking. Journal of Vision 2012;12(6):5. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.6.5.
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Saccadic inhibition refers to the strong temporary decrease in saccadic initiation observed when a visual distractor appears shortly after the onset of a saccadic target. Here, to gain a better understanding of this phenomenon, we assessed whether saccade amplitude changes could accompany these modulations of latency distributions. As previous studies on the saccadic system using visual backward masking—a protocol in which the mask appears shortly after the target—showed latency increases and amplitude changes, we suspected that this could be a condition in which amplitude changes would accompany saccadic inhibition. We show here that visual backward masking produces a strong saccadic inhibition. In addition, this saccadic inhibition was accompanied by large and complex amplitude changes: a first phase of gain decrease occurred before the saccadic inhibition; when saccades reappeared after the inhibition, they were accurate before rapidly entering into a second phase of gain decrease. We observed changes in saccade kinematics that were consistent with the possibility of saccades being interrupted during these two phases of gain decrease. These results show that the onset of a large stimulus shortly after a first one induces the previously reported saccadic inhibition, but also induces a complex pattern of amplitude changes resulting from a dual amplitude perturbation mechanism with fast and slow components.
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