Low-level visual information is maintained across saccades, allowing for a postsaccadic hand-off between visual areas

Fabius, J. H., Fracasso, A. , Acunzo, D. J., Van der Stigchel, S. and Melcher, D. (2020) Low-level visual information is maintained across saccades, allowing for a postsaccadic hand-off between visual areas. Journal of Neuroscience, 40(49), pp. 9476-9486. (doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1169-20.2020) (PMID:33115930) (PMCID:PMC7724139)

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Experience seems continuous and detailed despite saccadic eye movements changing retinal input several times per second. There is debate whether neural signals related to updating across saccades contain information about stimulus features, or only location pointers without visual details. We investigated the time course of low-level visual information processing across saccades by decoding spatial frequency of a stationary stimulus that changed from one visual hemifield to the other due to a horizontal saccadic eye movement. We recorded magnetoencephalography while human subjects (both sexes) monitored the orientation of a grating stimulus, making spatial frequency task-irrelevant. Separate trials, in which subjects maintained fixation, were used to train a classifier, whose performance was then tested on saccade trials. Decoding performance showed that spatial frequency information of the presaccadic stimulus remained present for ∼200 ms after the saccade, transcending retinotopic specificity. Postsaccadic information ramped up rapidly after saccade offset. There was an overlap of over 100 ms during which decoding was significant from both pre- and postsaccadic processing areas. This suggest that the apparent richness of perception across saccades may be supported by the continuous availability of low-level information with a "soft hand-off" of information during the initial processing sweep of the new fixation. Saccades create frequent discontinuities in visual input, yet perception appears stable and continuous. How is this discontinuous input processed resulting in visual stability? Previous studies have focused on presaccadic remapping. Here we examined the time course of processing of low-level visual information (spatial frequency) across saccades with magnetoencephalography. The results suggest that spatial frequency information is not predictively remapped but also not discarded. Instead, they suggest a soft hand-off over time between different visual areas, making this information continuously available across the saccade. Information about the presaccadic stimulus remains available, while the information about the postsaccadic stimulus has also become available. The simultaneous availability of both the pre and postsaccadic information could enable rich and continuous perception across saccades.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Fracasso, Dr Alessio and Fabius, Mr Jasper
Authors: Fabius, J. H., Fracasso, A., Acunzo, D. J., Van der Stigchel, S., and Melcher, D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Journal of Neuroscience
Publisher:Society for Neuroscience
ISSN (Online):1529-2401
Published Online:28 October 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Fabius et al.
First Published:First published in Journal of Neuroscience 40(49): 9476-9486
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
303685Stable perception of external stimuli over time: oculo-motor and visual processing mechanismsAlessio FracassoBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)BB/S006605/1NP - Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (CCNi)