When your eyes see more than you do

  • Tavassoli A
  • Ringach D
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Visual information is used by the brain to construct a conscious experience of the visual world and to guide motor actions [1]. Here we report a study of how eye movements and perception relate to each other. We compared the ability of human observers to perceive image motion with the reliability of their eyes to track the motion of a target [2-4], the goal being to test whether both motor and sensory processes are based on the same set of signals and limited by a shared source of noise [2,4]. We found that the oculomotor system can detect fluctuations in the velocity of a moving target better than the observer. Surprisingly, in some conditions, eye movements reliably respond to the velocity fluctuations of a moving target that are otherwise perceptually invisible to the subjects. The implication is that visual motion signals exist in the brain that can be used to guide motor actions without evoking a perceptual outcome nor being accessible to conscious scrutiny.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Consciousness
  • Eye
  • Eye Movements
  • Psychophysics

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  • A Tavassoli

  • D L Ringach

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