2020-04Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/21459
Intra-saccadic motion streaks as cues to linking object locations across saccades
When visual objects shift rapidly across the retina, they produce motion blur. Intra-saccadic visual signals, caused incessantly by our own saccades, are thought to be eliminated at early stages of visual processing. Here we investigate whether they are still available to the visual system and could—in principle—be used as cues for localizing objects as they change locations on the retina. Using a high-speed projection system, we developed a trans-saccadic identification task in which brief but continuous intra-saccadic object motion was key to successful performance. Observers made a saccade to a target stimulus that moved rapidly either up or down, strictly during the eye movement. Just as the target reached its final position, an identical distractor stimulus appeared on the opposite side, resulting in a display of two identical stimuli upon saccade landing. Observers had to identify the original target using the only available clue: the target's intra-saccadic movement. In an additional replay condition, we presented the observers’ own intra-saccadic retinal stimulus trajectories during fixation. Compared to the replay condition, task performance was impaired during saccades but recovered fully when a post-saccadic blank was introduced. Reverse regression analyses and confirmatory experiments showed that performance increased markedly when targets had long movement durations, low spatial frequencies, and orientations parallel to their retinal trajectory—features that promote intra-saccadic motion streaks. Although the potential functional role of intra-saccadic visual signals is still unclear, our results suggest that they could provide cues to tracking objects that rapidly change locations across saccades.
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This article was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.