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Disrupting saccadic updating: visual interference prior to the first saccade elicits spatial errors in the secondary saccade in a double-step task

Abstract

When we explore the visual environment around us, we produce sequences of very precise eye movements aligning the objects of interest with the most sensitive part of the retina for detailed visual processing. A copy of the impending motor command, the corollary discharge, is sent as soon as the first saccade in a sequence is ready to monitor the next fixation location and correctly plan the subsequent eye movement. Neurophysiological investigations have shown that chemical interference with the corollary discharge generates a distinct pattern of spatial errors on sequential eye movements, with similar results also from clinical and TMS studies. Here, we used saccadic inhibition to interfere with the temporal domain of the first of two subsequent saccades during a standard double-step paradigm. In two experiments, we report that the temporal interference on the primary saccade led to a specific error in the final landing position of the second saccade that was consistent with previous lesion and neurophysiological studies, but without affecting the spatial characteristics of the first eye movement. On the other hand, single-step saccades were differently influence by the flash, with a general undershoot, more pronounced for larger saccadic amplitude. These findings show that a flashed visual transient can disrupt saccadic updating in a double-step task, possibly due to the mismatch between the planned and the executed saccadic eye movement.

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Acknowledgments

This research was funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant award (Grant Agreement No. 313658) to D.M. and a research fellowship awarded to A.B. by the Comune di Rovereto.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards and the guidelines of the University of Trento Ethics Committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Correspondence to Antimo Buonocore.

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Buonocore, A., Melcher, D. Disrupting saccadic updating: visual interference prior to the first saccade elicits spatial errors in the secondary saccade in a double-step task. Exp Brain Res 233, 1893–1905 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-015-4261-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-015-4261-5

Keywords

  • Corollary discharge
  • Saccadic inhibition
  • Eye movements
  • Double-step saccade