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J Neurophysiol. 1996 Dec;76(6):3617-32.

Saccades to remembered targets: the effects of smooth pursuit and illusory stimulus motion.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.


1. Measurements were made in four normal human subjects of the accuracy of saccades to remembered locations of targets that were flashed on a 20 x 30 deg random dot display that was either stationary or moving horizontally and sinusoidally at +/-9 deg at 0.3 Hz. During the interval between the target flash and the memory-guided saccade, the "memory period" (1.4 s), subjects either fixated a stationary spot or pursued a spot moving vertically sinusoidally at +/-9 deg at 0.3 Hz. 2. When saccades were made toward the location of targets previously flashed on a stationary background as subjects fixated the stationary spot, median saccadic error was 0.93 deg horizontally and 1.1 deg vertically. These errors were greater than for saccades to visible targets, which had median values of 0.59 deg horizontally and 0.60 deg vertically. 3. When targets were flashed as subjects smoothly pursued a spot that moved vertically across the stationary background, median saccadic error was 1.1 deg horizontally and 1.2 deg vertically, thus being of similar accuracy to when targets were flashed during fixation. In addition, the vertical component of the memory-guided saccade was much more closely correlated with the "spatial error" than with the "retinal error"; this indicated that, when programming the saccade, the brain had taken into account eye movements that occurred during the memory period. 4. When saccades were made to targets flashed during attempted fixation of a stationary spot on a horizontally moving background, a condition that produces a weak Duncker-type illusion of horizontal movement of the primary target, median saccadic error increased horizontally to 3.2 deg but was 1.1 deg vertically. 5. When targets were flashed as subjects smoothly pursued a spot that moved vertically on the horizontally moving background, a condition that induces a strong illusion of diagonal target motion, median saccadic error was 4.0 deg horizontally and 1.5 deg vertically; thus the horizontal error was greater than under any other experimental condition. 6. In most trials, the initial saccade to the remembered target was followed by additional saccades while the subject was still in darkness. These secondary saccades, which were executed in the absence of visual feedback, brought the eye closer to the target location. During paradigms involving horizontal background movement, these corrections were more prominent horizontally than vertically. 7. Further measurements were made in two subjects to determine whether inaccuracy of memory-guided saccades, in the horizontal plane, was due to mislocalization at the time that the target flashed, misrepresentation of the trajectory of the pursuit eye movement during the memory period, or both. 8. The magnitude of the saccadic error, both with and without corrections made in darkness, was mislocalized by approximately 30% of the displacement of the background at the time that the target flashed. The magnitude of the saccadic error also was influenced by net movement of the background during the memory period, corresponding to approximately 25% of net background movement for the initial saccade and approximately 13% for the final eye position achieved in darkness. 9. We formulated simple linear models to test specific hypotheses about which combinations of signals best describe the observed saccadic amplitudes. We tested the possibilities that the brain made an accurate memory of target location and a reliable representation of the eye movement during the memory period, or that one or both of these was corrupted by the illusory visual stimulus. Our data were best accounted for by a model in which both the working memory of target location and the internal representation of the horizontal eye movements were corrupted by the illusory visual stimulus. We conclude that extraretinal signals played only a minor role, in comparison with visual estimates of the direction of gaze, in planning eye movements to remembered targ

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