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Lynn Huestegge, Oliver Herbort, Nora Gosch, Wilfried Kunde, Aleks Pieczykolan; Free-choice saccades and their underlying determinants: Explorations of high-level voluntary oculomotor control. Journal of Vision 2019;19(3):14. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.3.14.
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Models of eye-movement control distinguish between different control levels, ranging from automatic (bottom-up, stimulus-driven selection) and automatized (based on well-learned routines) to voluntary (top-down, goal-driven selection, e.g., based on instructions). However, one type of voluntary control has yet only been examined in the manual and not in the oculomotor domain, namely free-choice selection among arbitrary targets, that is, targets that are of equal interest from both a bottom-up and top-down processing perspective. Here, we ask which features of targets (identity- or location-related) are used to determine such oculomotor free-choice behavior. In two experiments, participants executed a saccade to one of four peripheral targets in three different choice conditions: unconstrained free choice, constrained free choice based on target identity (color), and constrained free choice based on target location. The analysis of choice frequencies revealed that unconstrained free-choice selection closely resembled constrained choice based on target location. The results suggest that free-choice oculomotor control is mainly guided by spatial (location-based) target characteristics. We explain these results by assuming that participants tend to avoid less parsimonious recoding of target-identity representations into spatial codes, the latter being a necessary prerequisite to configure oculomotor commands.
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