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Vision Res. 1995 Aug;35(16):2347-57.

Illusory localization of stimuli flashed in the dark before saccades.

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Brain Research Institute, University of California at Los Angeles 90024-1761, USA.


A photic stimulus flashed just before a saccade in the dark tends to be mislocalized in the direction of the saccade. This mislocalization is not only perceptual; it is also expressed by errors of ocular targeting. A particular situation arises if the point of light is flashed twice at the same place, the second time, just before a saccade. The point of light may appear at two different places even though neither the site of its retinal image nor the direction of gaze change between the flashes. Experiments were run on five human subjects, head fixed in the dark, with flashes repeated at the site of the saccade goal or at the initial point of fixation. In both cases, the test stimulus was mislocalized. However, its apparent displacement never produced the perception of a streak. Streaks were reported only when there was an actual stimulus movement on the retina (e.g. by flashing the stimulus during the saccade). Mislocalization did not occur if the two flashes were not separated by a dark interval. This implies that, as long as a steady stimulus remains continually visible, there is no updating of the internal representation of eye position assumed to be used for stimulus localization.

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