Evidence for a role of corrective eye movements during gaze fixation in saccade planning

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Abstract

In a three-dimensional (3D) world most saccades are made towards visual targets that are located at different distances. We previously demonstrated that gaze shifts within 3D space consist of two stages: a target saccade followed by a corrective saccade during gaze fixation that directs the eyes to the physical target location. We proposed that, by accurately positioning the eyes on the visual object, the visual system maintains an orderly representation of the visual world. In this study we used a double saccade experiment to assess the function of corrective saccades in humans. We found that, when a corrective eye movement occurred during fixation on the first target point, the direction of the second saccade towards the next target point was accurate. When a corrective saccade was absent, a directional error of the second target saccade was observed. This finding, which cannot be explained by current models of eye movement control, supports the idea of a two-step model in saccade programming. We suggest that the motor system sends a corollary discharge when programming a corrective saccade for maintaining an orderly representation of the visual world. In conclusion, our results indicate that corrective saccades have a role in programming target saccades within 3D space.

Previously we demonstrated that gaze shifts within 3-D space consists of two stages; a target saccade followed by a corrective saccade during gaze fixation. In the current study we used a double saccade experiment to assess the function of corrective saccades. When a corrective saccade was absent a directional error of the second target saccade was observed. These indicate that corrective saccades may have a role in programming target saccades within 3-D space.

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