Experimental Brain Research

, 193:287 | Cite as

Dual LATER-unit model predicts saccadic reaction time distributions in gap, step and appearance tasks

  • Giles W. Story
  • R. H. S. CarpenterEmail author
Research Article


Saccadic latencies have long been known to depend on the relative timing of the appearance of the new target, and offset of the original fixation target. Previous studies have tended to conclude that two separate effects are at work, one equivalent to competitive inhibition from the fixation target, and the other due to its offset providing a warning that shortens latency. In this study, we propose a simpler explanation, based on a well-established model of reaction time, LATER (linear approach to threshold with ergodic rate), that in addition to predicting mean latencies also—more challengingly—predicts latency distributions. We show that observed distributions, using gap, step and appearance tasks under three conditions of prior probability, can be accurately predicted by using a pair of LATER units, one corresponding to fixation target offset and the other to peripheral target onset. Because fixation offset is probabilistically associated with target appearance, when the fixation unit is activated it increases the target’s decision signal (that represents probability) in a fixed proportion, speeding responses. In contrast, when the fixation target remains present, the fixation unit is not activated, and responses are slower. Both these effects generate characteristic changes in the shapes of the latency distributions that can be accurately predicted by the model.


Saccade Reaction time Gap task LATER 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physiology, Development and NeuroscienceUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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