Perceptual task induces saccadic adaptation by target selection

  • Schütz A
  • Souto D
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Adaptation of saccades can be induced by different error signals, such as retinal position errors, prediction errors, or reinforcement learning. Recently, we showed that a shift in the spatial goal of a perceptual task can induce saccadic adaptation, in the absence of a bottom-up position error. Here, we investigated whether this top-down effect is mediated by the visibility of the task-relevant object, by reinforcement due to the feedback about the perceptual judgment or by a target selection mechanism. Participants were asked to discriminate visual stimuli arranged in a vertical compound. To induce adaptation, the discrimination target was presented at eccentric locations in the compound. In the first experiment, we compared adaptation with an easy and difficult discrimination. In the second experiment, we compared adaptation when feedback about the perceptual task was valid and when feedback was provided but was unrelated to performance. In the third experiment, we compared adaptation with instructions to fixate one of the elements in the compound-target selection-to the perceptual task condition-target selection and discrimination. To control for a bottom-up stimulus effect, we ran a fourth experiment in which the only instruction was to look at the compound. The saccade amplitude data were fitted by a two-state model distinguishing between an immediate and a gradual error correction process. We replicated our finding that a perceptual task can drive adaptation of saccades. Adaptation showed no effect of feedback reliability, nor an effect of the perceptual task beyond target selection. Adaptation was induced by a top-down signal since it was absent when there was no target selection instruction and no perceptual task. The immediate error correction was larger for the difficult than for the easy condition, suggesting that task difficulty affects mainly voluntary saccade targeting. In addition, the repetition of experiments one week later increased the magnitude of the gradual error correction. The results dissociate two distinct components of adaptation: an immediate and a gradual error correction. We conclude that perceptual-task induced adaptation is most likely due to top-down target selection within a larger object.




Schütz, A. C., & Souto, D. (2015). Perceptual task induces saccadic adaptation by target selection. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9.

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