The Subjective Direction of Gaze Shifts Long Before the Saccade

  • Heiner Deubel
  • David E. Irwin
  • Werner X. Schneider


Subjects in eye movement experiments sometimes report that they have moved their eyes to some location before their eyes have actually moved (Deubel and Schneider, 1996). We investigated this by presenting a brief test stimulus at various points in time after directing subjects to make a saccadic eye movement to a peripheral cue. The subjects had to report where they were looking when the test stimulus was presented. We found that visual stimuli presented at the saccade target location as early as 250 ms before sac-cade onset were reported as occurring after the saccade. In a second experiment subjects performed, intentionally, a saccade to a static cue. Also under this condition, subjects reported to look at the future saccade target location long before the saccade actually occurred. The data show that subjects are unaware of the time when they make even a large saccade, and that they have no explicit knowledge of the retinal position of stimuli. Rather, they mistake movements of visual attention for movements of the eyes.


Test Stimulus Visual Attention Saccade Target Test Circle Saccade Onset 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Deubel H, Schneider WX (1996) Saccade target selection and object recognition: Evidence for a common attentional mechanism. Vision Res 36: 1827–1837PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Deubel H, Schneider W X, Bridgeman B (1996) Post-saccadic target blanking prevents saccadic suppression of image displacement. Vision Res 36: 985–996PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Duhamel J, Colby C, Goldberg ME (1992) The updating of the representation of visual space in parietal cortex by intended eye movements. Science 27: 227–240Google Scholar
  4. Hoffman JE, Subramaniam B (1995) The role of visual attention in saccadic eye movements. Percept Psychophys 57: 787–795PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Irwin DE, McConkie G, Carlson-Radvansky L, Currie C (1994) A localist evaluation solution for visual stability across saccades. Behav Brain Sci 17: 265–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kowler E, Anderson E, Dosher B, Blaser E (1995) The role of attention in the programming of saccades. Vision Res 35:1897–1916PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. McConkie G, Currie C (1996) Visual stability across saccades while viewing complex pictures. J Exp Psy-chol.HPP 22: 563–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Schneider WX, Deubel H (1995) Visual attention and saccadic eye movements: Evidence for obligatory and selective spatial coupling. In: Findlay JM, Kentridge RW, Walker R (eds) Eye movement research: mechanisms, processes and applications. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 317–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Shepherd M, Findlay JM, Hockey RJ (1986) The relationship between eye movements and spatial attention. Q J Exp Psychol 38A: 475–491Google Scholar
  10. Skavenski AA, Steinman RM (1970) Control of eye position in the dark. Vision Res 10: 193–203PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heiner Deubel
    • 1
  • David E. Irwin
    • 2
  • Werner X. Schneider
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyLudwig-Maximilians-UniversityMunichGermany
  2. 2.University of IllinoisUrbana-ChampaignUSA

Personalised recommendations