Effects of uncertainty and target displacement on the latency of express saccades in man

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Abstract

Saccadic eye movements generated in response to a gap paradigm in which the fixation light spot was extinguished 200 ms prior to presentation of the target light spot showed appreciably shorter latencies than for the overlap paradigm in which the target light spot was presented 200 ms prior to extinction of the fixation light spot. When there was unpredictability in the direction of target presentation, i.e., to the left or right of the fixation light spot, the gap paradigm evoked mainly fast regular saccades of peak latency of 155 ms with relatively few express saccades which were defined as having latencies of less than 120 ms. By contrast, when the target always appeared to the right, a substantial population of express saccades with peak latency 95 ms was now generated. There was also a change in the relationship between saccadic latency and target angular displacement which covered the range 5–35 °. With the overlap paradigm and unpredictability of target direction, the latencies of the slow regular saccades increased markedly with target angular displacement. This was not the case with the same target direction when the latency of slow regular, fast regular, and express saccades remained constant with increasing target angular displacement. This indicates for targets appearing in the same hemifield that the ocular motor system operates with shortest latency irrespective of target angular displacement.

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