The generation of secondary saccades without postsaccadic visual feedback

Sven Ohl, Stephan A. Brandt, Reinhold Kliegl

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Primary saccades are often followed by small secondary saccades, which are generally thought to reduce the distance between the saccade endpoint and target location. Accumulated evidence demonstrates that secondary saccades are subject to various influences, among which retinal feedback during postsaccadic fixation constitutes only one important signal. Recently, we reported that target eccentricity and an orientation bias influence the generation of secondary saccades. In the present study, we examine secondary saccades in the absence of postsaccadic visual feedback. Although extraretinal signals (e.g., efference copy) have received widespread attention in eye-movement studies, it is still unclear whether an extraretinal error signal contributes to the programming of secondary saccades. We have observed that secondary saccade latency and amplitude depend on primary saccade error despite the absence of postsaccadic visual feedback. Strong evidence for an extraretinal error signal influencing secondary saccade programming is given by the observation that secondary saccades are more likely to be oriented in a direction opposite to the primary saccade as primary saccade error shifts from target undershoot to overshoot. We further show how the functional relationship between primary saccade landing position and secondary saccade characteristics varies as a function of target eccentricity. We propose that initial target eccentricity and an extraretinal error signal codetermine the postsaccadic activity distribution in the saccadic motor map when no visual feedback is available.

Journal of Vision