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J Physiol. 1982 Dec;333:1-15.

Selective depression of motion sensitivity during saccades.


1. Horizontal gratings flashed for 20 ms were used to compare visual contrast sensitivity during horizontal saccades with sensitivity during normal vision, at three luminance levels, 4 X 10(2), 4 X 10(-2), and 4 X 10(-4) cd/m2. 2. Greatest sensitivity loss during saccades was found at low spatial frequencies. There is little or no loss at high spatial frequencies. 3. As luminance level is decreased there is a decrease in the spatial frequency below which saccadic sensitivity loss occurs. This shift in spatial frequency with luminance level, considered in conjunction with measurements of stationary and drifting gratings, indicates the functional involvement of movement sensitive mechanisms in saccadic sensitivity loss. 4. At the two lower luminance levels (4 X 10(-2) and 4 X 10(-4) cd/m2) sensitivity during saccades is greater than normal at high spatial frequencies. This enhancement of sensitivity was confirmed by forced choice measurements. 5. It was also shown that sensitivity to abrupt changes in the trajectory of moving gratings is lowered during saccades. 6. It is concluded that mechanisms sensitive to movement and transients are damped during saccades, so preventing perception of image motion during saccades and thereby preserving visual stability.

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