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Effects of post-saccadic oscillations on visual processing times

Llapashtica, E., Sun, T., Grattan, K. T. V. & Barbur, J. L. ORCID: 0000-0002-2187-5004 (2024). Effects of post-saccadic oscillations on visual processing times. PLOS ONE, 19(5), article number e0302459. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0302459


Saccadic eye movements enable us to search for the target of interest in a crowded scene or, in the case of goal-directed saccades, to simply bring the image of the peripheral target to the very centre of the fovea. This mechanism extends the use of the superior image processing performance of the fovea over a large visual field. We know that visual information is processed quickly at the end of each saccade but estimates of the times involved remain controversial. This study aims to investigate the processing of visual information during post fixation oscillations of the eyeball. A new psychophysical test measures the combined eye movement response latencies, including fixation duration and visual processing times. When the test is used in conjunction with an eye tracker, each component that makes up the ‘integrated saccade latency’ time, from the onset of the peripheral stimulus to the correct interpretation of the information carried by the stimulus, can be measured and the discrete components delineated. The results show that the time required to process and encode the stimulus attribute of interest at the end of a saccade is longer than the time needed to carry out the same task in the absence of an eye movement. We propose two principal hypotheses, each of which can account for this finding. 1. The known inhibition of afferent retinal signals during fast eye movements extends beyond the end point of the saccade. 2. The extended visual processing times measured when saccades are involved are caused by the transient loss of spatial resolution due to eyeball instability during post-saccadic oscillations. The latter can best be described as retinal image smear with greater loss of spatial resolution expected for stimuli of low luminance contrast.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright: © 2024 Llapashtica et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Publisher Keywords: Humans, Photic Stimulation, Visual Perception, Reaction Time, Visual Fields, Fixation, Ocular, Saccades, Time Factors, Adult, Female, Male, Young Adult, Humans, Saccades, Adult, Male, Female, Reaction Time, Visual Perception, Fixation, Ocular, Young Adult, Photic Stimulation, Visual Fields, Time Factors, General Science & Technology
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
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