Saccadic localization of occluded targets

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Saccadic eye movements are able to localize spatially-extended targets, including patterns of random dots and simple shapes, with a high degree of precision [McGowan, Kowler, Sharma and Chubb (1998). Vision Research, 38, 895-909; Melcher and Kowler (1999). Vision Research, 39, 2929-2946]. This paper investigates the representations of object shape that guide saccades. We studied saccadic localization of partially-occluded triangles (two or three vertices removed) to find out whether saccades have access to a representation of the full shape, despite the missing portions. Targets were configured so that they could be seen either as triangles, which were partially occluded by polygons, or as fragments in front of the same polygons. Subjects tried to saccade to the inferred full triangle and a discrimination paradigm was used to evaluate their success. Occlusion cues were ineffective in that saccades directed to the occluded triangles landed near the center of the visible fragment, even when it was configured as a triangle behind occluders. Removing the occluders and leaving only three segments of the triangle (vertices removed) helped somewhat, but performance never resembled that achieved with either a full triangle or a 3-dot configuration. We conclude that the saccadic system is insensitive to at least some cues that can be used to infer the shape of objects. For occluded targets, the representation used by saccades may be closer to the configuration of the retinal image. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd.




Vishwanath, D., Kowler, E., & Feldman, J. (2000). Saccadic localization of occluded targets. Vision Research, 40(20), 2797–2811.

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