Detection of stimulus displacements across saccades is capacity-limited and biased in favor of the saccade target

David E Irwin, Maria M. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Retinal image displacements caused by saccadic eye movements are generally unnoticed. Recent theories have proposed that perceptual stability across saccades depends on a local evaluation process centered on the saccade target object rather than on remapping and evaluating the positions of all objects in a display. In three experiments, we examined whether objects other than the saccade target also influence perceptual stability by measuring displacement detection thresholds across saccades for saccade targets and a variable number of non-saccade objects. We found that the positions of multiple objects are maintained across saccades, but with variable precision, with the saccade target object having priority in the perception of displacement, most likely because it is the focus of attention before the saccade and resides near the fovea after the saccade. The perception of displacement of objects that are not the saccade target is affected by acuity limitations, attentional limitations, and limitations on memory capacity. Unlike previous studies that have found that a postsaccadic blank improves the detection of displacement direction across saccades, we found that postsaccadic blanking hurt the detection of displacement per se by increasing false alarms. Overall, our results are consistent with the hypothesis that visual working memory underlies the perception of stability across saccades.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number161
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
Issue numberNovember
StatePublished - Nov 27 2015


  • Memory
  • Object correspondence
  • Perceptual stability
  • Saccadic eye movements
  • Visual acuity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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