(49/2544) Shape representations and visual guidance of saccadic eye movements.
One hallmark of primate vision is that the direction of gaze is constantly shifting to position objects of interest appropriately on the fovea, where visual acuity is greatest. This process must involve the close cooperation of oculomotor and visual recognition mechanisms because visual details must be translated into specific motor commands. This paper describes the correspondence between the presaccadic activity of V4 neurons and the degree of visual guidance of saccadic eye movements to objects of different form. The results suggest that neurons that participate in coding visual stimuli are also involved in guiding the eyes to prominent features of objects. (+info)
(50/2544) Shapes, surfaces and saccades.
Saccadic localization of spatially extended objects requires the computation of a single saccadic landing position. What representation of the target guides saccades? Saccades were examined for various targets composed of dots to determine whether landing position corresponded to the center-of-gravity (average location) of the dots, the center-of-area of the shape, or the symmetric axis. Targets were composed of dots configured as outline drawings of circles, ellipses, cardioids, wiggly lines, or amorphous blobs. In some cases, dot spacing was varied, extraneous dot clusters were superimposed, or different distributions of dots inside the boundary were added. Quasi-random dot clusters without a well-defined contour were also studied. Instructions were to look at the target as a whole, and keep latency long enough to avoid compromising accuracy. Saccades landed with a high level of precision (S.D.s 7-10% of target eccentricity) near the center-of-area of the target shape, rather than at the center-of-gravity of the dots or on the symmetric axis. Landing position was unaffected by the spacing of dots along the boundary, the addition of dots within the boundary, or the addition of the extraneous dot clusters. When the target was a cluster of quasi-random dots, saccades landed closer to the center-of-area of the implied surface than to the average location of the dots. Overall, the positions of individual dots were important only insofar as the dots affected overall target shape. The results show that a representation of target shape guides saccades, rather than a more primitive representation of individual elements within the attended region. (+info)
(51/2544) Idiosyncratic characteristics of saccadic eye movements when viewing different visual environments.
Eye position was recorded in different viewing conditions to assess whether the temporal and spatial characteristics of saccadic eye movements in different individuals are idiosyncratic. Our aim was to determine the degree to which oculomotor control is based on endogenous factors. A total of 15 naive subjects viewed five visual environments: (1) The absence of visual stimulation (i.e. a dark room); (2) a repetitive visual environment (i.e. simple textured patterns); (3) a complex natural scene; (4) a visual search task; and (5) reading text. Although differences in visual environment had significant effects on eye movements, idiosyncrasies were also apparent. For example, the mean fixation duration and size of an individual's saccadic eye movements when passively viewing a complex natural scene covaried significantly with those same parameters in the absence of visual stimulation and in a repetitive visual environment. In contrast, an individual's spatio-temporal characteristics of eye movements during active tasks such as reading text or visual search covaried together, but did not correlate with the pattern of eye movements detected when viewing a natural scene, simple patterns or in the dark. These idiosyncratic patterns of eye movements in normal viewing reveal an endogenous influence on oculomotor control. The independent covariance of eye movements during different visual tasks shows that saccadic eye movements during active tasks like reading or visual search differ from those engaged during the passive inspection of visual scenes. (+info)
(52/2544) Countermanding saccades in humans.
We used a countermanding paradigm to investigate the relationship between conflicting cues for controlling human saccades. Subjects made a saccade to a target appearing suddenly in the periphery; but on some trials, after a delay, a stop-signal was presented that instructed subjects to inhibit the saccade. As we increased this delay, subjects increasingly failed to inhibit the movement. From measurements of this relationship, and of saccadic latency in control trials, we estimated the average time needed to inhibit the saccade (the stop-signal reaction time or SSRT). SSRTs were similar across subjects, between 125 and 145 ms, and did not vary with target luminance. We then investigated a race model in which the target initiates a response preparation signal rising linearly with a rate varying randomly from trial to trial, and racing against a similarly rising signal initiated by the cue to inhibit the saccade. The first process to cross a trigger threshold determines whether the saccade is initiated or not. In Monte Carlo simulations, this model correctly predicted the probability of successful saccade inhibition as a function of the stop-signal delay, and also the statistical distributions of saccadic latency during trials in which a stop-signal was presented but the subject failed to inhibit the saccade. These findings provide a comparison to results previously described in the monkey, and show that a simple race model with a linear rise to threshold may underlie behavioural performance in tasks of this kind. (+info)
(53/2544) The spectral main sequence of human saccades.
Despite the many models of saccadic eye movements, little attention has been paid to the shape of saccade trajectories. Some investigators have argued that saccades are driven by a rectangular "bang-bang" neural control signal, whereas others have emphasized the similarity to fast arm movement trajectories, such as the "minimum jerk" profile. However, models have not been tested rigorously against empirical trajectories. We examined the Fourier transforms of saccades and compared them with theoretical models. Horizontal saccades were recorded from 10 healthy subjects. The Fourier transform of each saccade was accurately computed using a padded fast Fourier transform (FFT), and the frequencies of the first three minima (M1, M2, M3) in each energy spectrum were measured to a precision of 0.12 Hz. Each subject showed near-linear trends in the relationships among M1, M2, and M3 and the reciprocal of duration (1/T), which we call the "spectral main sequence." Extrapolation of plots did not pass through the origin, indicating a subtle departure from self-similarity. Bivariate confidence regions were established to allow for slope-intercept variability. The nonharmonic relationships seen cannot arise from a rectangular saccadic pulse driving a linear ocular plant. The relationships are also incompatible with minimum acceleration, minimum jerk, or higher-order minimum square derivative trajectories. The best fits were made by trajectories that minimize postmovement variance with signal-dependent noise (). It is concluded that the spectral main sequence is exquisitely sensitive to the saccade trajectory and should be used to test objectively all present and future models of saccades. (+info)
(54/2544) Evidence for on-line visual guidance during saccadic gaze shifts.
Rapid orientating movements of the eyes are believed to be controlled ballistically. The mechanism underlying this control is thought to involve a comparison between the desired displacement of the eye and an estimate of its actual position (obtained from the integration of the eye velocity signal). This study shows, however, that under certain circumstances fast gaze movements may be controlled quite differently and may involve mechanisms which use visual information to guide movements prospectively. Subjects were required to make large gaze shifts in yaw towards a target whose location and motion were unknown prior to movement onset. Six of those tested demonstrated remarkable accuracy when making gaze shifts towards a target that appeared during their ongoing movement. In fact their level of accuracy was not significantly different from that shown when they performed a 'remembered' gaze shift to a known stationary target (F3,15 = 0.15, p > 0.05). The lack of a stereotypical relationship between the skew of the gaze velocity profile and movement duration indicates that on-line modifications were being made. It is suggested that a fast route from the retina to the superior colliculus could account for this behaviour and that models of oculomotor control need to be updated. (+info)
(55/2544) Saccadic suppression precedes visual motion analysis.
There is now good evidence that perception of motion is strongly suppressed during saccades (rapid shifts of gaze), presumably to blunt the disturbing sense of motion that saccades would otherwise elicit. Other aspects of vision, such as contrast detection of high-frequency or equiluminant gratings, are virtually unaffected by saccades     . This has led to the suggestion that saccades may suppress selectively the magnocellular pathway (which is strongly implicated in motion perception), leaving the parvocellular pathway unaffected  . Here, we investigate the neural level at which perception of motion is suppressed. We used a simple technique in which an impression of motion is generated from only two frames, allowing precise control over the stimulus  . One frame has a certain fixed contrast, whereas the contrast of the other (the test frame) is varied to determine the threshold for motion discrimination (that is, the lowest test-frame contrast level at which the direction of motion can be correctly guessed). Contrast thresholds of the test depended strongly and non-monotonically on the contrast of the fixed-contrast frame, with a minimum at medium contrast. To study the effect of saccadic suppression, we triggered the two-frame sequence by a voluntary saccade. Thresholds during saccades increased in a way that suggested that saccadic suppression precedes motion analysis: when the test frame was first in the motion sequence there was a general depression of sensitivity, whereas when it was second, the contrast response curve was shifted to a higher contrast range, sometimes even resulting in higher sensitivity than without a saccade. The dependence on presentation order suggests that saccadic suppression occurs at an early stage of visual processing, on the single frames themselves rather than on the combined motion signal. As motion detection itself is thought to occur at an early stage, saccadic suppression must take place at a very early phenomenon. (+info)
(56/2544) Deficits of smooth pursuit initiation in patients with degenerative cerebellar lesions.
It is well known that cerebellar dysfunction can lead to an impairment of eye velocity during sustained pursuit tracking of continuously moving visual target. We have now studied the initiation of smooth pursuit eye movements towards predictable and randomized visual step-ramp stimuli in six patients with degenerative cerebellar lesions and six age-matched healthy controls using the magnetic scleral search-coil technique. In comparison with the control subjects, the cerebellar patients showed a significant delay of pursuit onset, and their initial eye acceleration was significantly decreased. These cerebellar deficits of pursuit initiation were similarly found in response to both randomized and predictable step-ramps, suggesting that predictive input does not compensate for cerebellar deficits in the initiation period of smooth pursuit. When we compared initial saccades during smooth tracking of foveofugal and foveopetal step-ramps, the absolute position error of these saccades did not significantly differ between patients and controls. In fact, none of the patients showed any bias of the saccadic position error that was related to the direction or velocity of the ongoing target motion. This work presents further evidence that the effect of cerebellar degeneration is not limited to the impaired velocity gain of steady-state smooth pursuit. Instead, it prolongs the processing time required to initiate smooth pursuit and impairs the initial eye acceleration. These two deficits were not associated with an abnormal assessment of target velocity and they were not modified by predictive control mechanisms, suggesting that cerebellar deficits of smooth initiation are not primarily caused by abnormal information on target motion being relayed to the cerebellum. (+info)