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The relative importance of retinal error and prediction in saccadic adaptation


, : The relative importance of retinal error and prediction in saccadic adaptation. Journal of Neurophysiology 107(12): 3342-3348

When saccades systematically miss their visual target, their amplitude adjusts, causing the position errors to be progressively reduced. Conventionally, this adaptation is viewed as driven by retinal error (the distance between primary saccade endpoint and visual target). Recent work suggests that the oculomotor system is informed about where the eye lands; thus not all "retinal error" is unexpected. The present study compared two error signals that may drive saccade adaptation: retinal error and prediction error (the difference between predicted and actual postsaccadic images). Subjects made saccades to a visual target in two successive sessions. In the first session, the target was extinguished during saccade execution if the amplitude was smaller (or, in other experiments, greater) than the running median, thereby modifying the average retinal error subjects experienced without moving the target during the saccade as in conventional adaptation paradigms. In the second session, targets were extinguished at the start of saccades and turned back on at a position that reproduced the trial-by-trial retinal error recorded in the first session. Despite the retinal error in the first and second sessions having been identical, adaptation was severalfold greater in the second session, when the predicted target position had been changed. These results argue that the eye knows where it lands and where it expects the target to be, and that deviations from this prediction drive saccade adaptation more strongly than retinal error alone.

US$19.90

PMID: 22442574

DOI: 10.1152/jn.00746.2011


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