An Equivalent Noise Investigation of Saccadic Suppression

Tamara Watson, Bart Krekelberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Visual stimuli presented just before or during an eye movement are more difficult to detect than those same visual stimuli presented during fixation. This laboratory phenomenon-behavioral saccadic suppression-is thought to underlie the everyday experience of not perceiving the motion created by our own eye movements-saccadic omission. At the neural level, many cortical and sub cortical areas respond differently to perisaccadic visual stimuli than to stimuli presented during fixation. Those neural response changes, however, are complex and the link to the behavioral phenomena of reduced detect ability remains tentative.We used awellestablished model of human visual detection perform ance to provide a quantitative description of behavioral saccadic suppression and thereby allow amore focused search for its neural mechanisms. We used an equivalent noise method to distinguish between three mechanisms that could underlie saccadic suppression. The first hypothesized mechanism reduces the gain of the visual system, the second increases internal noise levels in a stimulus-dependent manner, and the third increases stimulus uncertainty. All three mechanisms predict that perisaccadic stimuli should be more difficult to detect, but each mechanism predicts a unique pattern of detectability as a function of the amount of external noise. Our experimental finding was that saccades increased detection threshold sat low external noise, but had little influence on thresholds at high levels of external noise. A formal analysis of these data in the equivalent noise analysis framework showed that the most parsimonious mechanism underlying saccadic suppression is a stimulus-independent reduction in response gain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6535-6541
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 27 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


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