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Elife. 2017 May 2;6. pii: e25073. doi: 10.7554/eLife.25073.

Saccadic suppression as a perceptual consequence of efficient sensorimotor estimation.

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Institute of Information and Communication Technologies, Electronics and Applied Mathematics, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.
Institute of Neuroscience, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University, Chicago, United States.


Humans perform saccadic eye movements two to three times per second. When doing so, the nervous system strongly suppresses sensory feedback for extended periods of time in comparison to movement time. Why does the brain discard so much visual information? Here we suggest that perceptual suppression may arise from efficient sensorimotor computations, assuming that perception and control are fundamentally linked. More precisely, we show theoretically that a Bayesian estimator should reduce the weight of sensory information around the time of saccades, as a result of signal dependent noise and of sensorimotor delays. Such reduction parallels the behavioral suppression occurring prior to and during saccades, and the reduction in neural responses to visual stimuli observed across the visual hierarchy. We suggest that saccadic suppression originates from efficient sensorimotor processing, indicating that the brain shares neural resources for perception and control.


computational biology; eye movements; neuroscience; none; optimal control; saccadic suppression; signal-dependent noise; state estimation; systems biology

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