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Localization of targets across saccades: Role of landmark objects

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Saccadic eye movements are required to bring different parts of the visual world into the foveal region of the retina. With each saccade, the images of the objects drastically change their retinal positions--nevertheless, the visual world appears continuous and does not seem to jump. How does the visual system achieve this continuous and stable percept of the visual world, despite the gross changes of its retinal projection that occur with each saccade? The present paper argues that an important factor of this type of space constancy is formed by the reafferent information, i.e., the visual display that is found when the eyes land. Three experiments demonstrate that objects present across the saccade can serve as landmarks for postsaccadic relocalization. The basic experimental manipulation consisted of a systematic displacement of these landmark objects during the saccade. The effectiveness of the landmarks was determined by analysing to what degree they modify the perceived shift of a small saccade target that was blanked for 200 ms during and after the saccade. A first experiment studied the spatial range where objects become effective as landmarks. The data show that landmarks close to the saccade target and horizontally aligned with the target are specifically effective. The second experiment demonstrates that postsaccadic localization is normally based on relational information about relative stimulus positions transferred across the saccade. A third experiment studied the effect of a prominent background frame on transsaccadic localization; the results suggest that background structures contribute only little to transsaccadic localization.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit├Ąt, Germany

Publication date: 2004-02-01

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