Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 232, Issue 4, pp 1357–1366 | Cite as

The influence of vertically and horizontally aligned visual distractors on aurally guided saccadic eye movements

  • A. F. Ten BrinkEmail author
  • T. C. W. Nijboer
  • N. Van der Stoep
  • S. Van der Stigchel
Research Article


Eye movements towards a new target can be guided or disrupted by input from multiple modalities. The degree of oculomotor competition evoked by a distractor depends on both distractor and target properties, such as distractor salience or certainty regarding the target location. The ability to localize the target is particularly important when studying saccades made towards auditory targets, since determination of elevation and azimuth of a sound are based on different processes, and these processes may be affected independently by a distractor. We investigated the effects of a visual distractor on saccadic eye movements made to an auditory target in a two-dimensional plane. Results showed that the competition evoked by a vertical visual distractor was stronger compared with a horizontal visual distractor. The eye movements that were not captured by the vertical visual distractor were still influenced by it: a deviation of endpoints was seen in the direction of the visual distractor. Furthermore, the interference evoked by a high-contrast visual distractor was stronger compared with low-contrast visual stimuli, which was reflected by a faster initiation of an eye movement towards the high-contrast visual distractor and a stronger shift of endpoints in the direction of the high-contrast visual distractor. Together, these findings show that the influence of a visual distractor on aurally guided eye movements depends strongly on its location relative to the target, and to a lesser extent, on stimulus contrast.


Saccades Eye movements Multisensory interaction Auditory localization Visual distractor 



This research was funded by a grant from the Netherlands organization for Scientific Research: grant 451-10-013 to TCWN.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. F. Ten Brink
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • T. C. W. Nijboer
    • 1
    • 2
  • N. Van der Stoep
    • 1
  • S. Van der Stigchel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental Psychology, Helmholtz InstituteUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht and Center of Excellence for Rehabilitation Medicine, De Hoogstraat RehabilitationUtrechtThe Netherlands

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