Evidence for synergy between saccades and smooth pursuit during transient target disappearance

Jean Jacques Orban De Xivry, Simon J. Bennett, Philippe Lefèvre, Graham R. Barnes

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    Visual tracking of moving objects requires prediction to compensate for visual delays and minimize mismatches between eye and target position and velocity. In everyday life, objects often disappear behind an occluder, and prediction is required to align eye and target at reappearance. Earlier studies investigating eye motion during target blanking showed that eye velocity first decayed after disappearance but was sustained or often recovered in a predictive way. Furthermore, saccades were directed toward the unseen target trajectory and therefore appeared to correct for position errors resulting from eye velocity decay. To investigate the synergy between smooth and saccadic eye movements, this study used a target blanking paradigm where both position and velocity of the target at reappearance could vary independently but were presented repeatedly to facilitate prediction. We found that eye velocity at target reappearance was only influenced by expected target velocity, whereas saccades responded to the expected change of target position at reappearance. Moreover, subjects exhibited on-line adaptation, on a trial-by-trial basis, between smooth and saccadic components; i.e., saccades compensated for variability of smooth eye displacement during the blanking period such that gaze at target reappearance was independent of the level of smooth eye displacement. We suggest these results indicate that information arising from efference copies of saccadic and smooth pursuit systems are combined with the goal of adjusting eye position at target reappearance. Based on prior experimental evidence, we hypothesize that this spatial remapping is carried out through interactions between a number of identified neurophysiological structures. Copyright © 2006 The American Physiological Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)418-427
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006


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