The Relationship between Saccadic Suppression and Perceptual Stability

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Introspection makes it clear that we do not see the visual motion generated by our saccadic eye movements. We refer to the lack of awareness of the motion across the retina that is generated by a saccade as saccadic omission [1]: the visual stimulus generated by the saccade is omitted from our subjective awareness. In the laboratory, saccadic omission is often studied by investigating saccadic suppression, the reduction in visual sensitivity before and during a saccade (see Ross et al. [2] and Wurtz [3] for reviews). We investigated whether perceptual stability requires that a mechanism like saccadic suppression removes perisaccadic stimuli from visual processing to prevent their presumed harmful effect on perceptual stability [4, 5]. Our results show that a stimulus that undergoes saccadic omission can nevertheless generate a shape contrast illusion. This illusion can be generated when the inducer and test stimulus are separated in space and is therefore thought to be generated at a later stage of visual processing [6]. This shows that perceptual stability is attained without removing stimuli from processing and suggests a conceptually new view of perceptual stability in which perisaccadic stimuli are processed by the early visual system, but these signals are prevented from reaching awareness at a later stage of processing. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Watson, T. L., & Krekelberg, B. (2009). The Relationship between Saccadic Suppression and Perceptual Stability. Current Biology, 19(12), 1040–1043.

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