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J Vis. 2014 Jan 14;14(1). pii: 12. doi: 10.1167/14.1.12.

Catch-up saccades in head-unrestrained conditions reveal that saccade amplitude is corrected using an internal model of target movement.

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ICTEAM Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.


This study analyzes how human participants combine saccadic and pursuit gaze movements when they track an oscillating target moving along a randomly oriented straight line with the head free to move. We found that to track the moving target appropriately, participants triggered more saccades with increasing target oscillation frequency to compensate for imperfect tracking gains. Our sinusoidal paradigm allowed us to show that saccade amplitude was better correlated with internal estimates of position and velocity error at saccade onset than with those parameters 100 ms before saccade onset as head-restrained studies have shown. An analysis of saccadic onset time revealed that most of the saccades were triggered when the target was accelerating. Finally, we found that most saccades were triggered when small position errors were combined with large velocity errors at saccade onset. This could explain why saccade amplitude was better correlated with velocity error than with position error. Therefore, our results indicate that the triggering mechanism of head-unrestrained catch-up saccades combines position and velocity error at saccade onset to program and correct saccade amplitude rather than using sensory information 100 ms before saccade onset.


gaze shifts; head-free; saccade-pursuit interactions

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