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Christian Wolf, Alexander C. Schütz; Earlier saccades to task-relevant targets irrespective of relative gain between peripheral and foveal information. Journal of Vision 2017;17(6):21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/17.6.21.
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Saccades bring objects of interest onto the fovea for high-acuity processing. Saccades to rewarded targets show shorter latencies that correlate negatively with expected motivational value. Shorter latencies are also observed when the saccade target is relevant for a perceptual discrimination task. Here we tested whether saccade preparation is equally influenced by informational value as it is by motivational value. We defined informational value as the probability that information is task-relevant times the ratio between postsaccadic foveal and presaccadic peripheral discriminability. Using a gaze-contingent display, we independently manipulated peripheral and foveal discriminability of the saccade target. Latencies of saccades with perceptual task were reduced by 36 ms in general, but they were not modulated by the information saccades provide (Experiments 1 and 2). However, latencies showed a clear negative linear correlation with the probability that the target is task-relevant (Experiment 3). We replicated that the facilitation by a perceptual task is spatially specific and not due to generally heightened arousal (Experiment 4). Finally, the facilitation only emerged when the perceptual task is in the visual but not in the auditory modality (Experiment 5). Taken together, these results suggest that saccade latencies are not equally modulated by informational value as by motivational value. The facilitation by a perceptual task only arises when task-relevant visual information is foveated, irrespective of whether the foveation is useful or not.
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