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Saccades Exert Spatial Control of Motion Processing for Smooth Pursuit Eye Movements

Schoppik, David; Lisberger, Stephen

Saccades modulate the relationship between visual motion and smooth eye movement. Before a saccade, pursuit eye movements reflect a vector average of motion across the visual field. After a saccade, pursuit primarily reflects the motion of the target closest to the endpoint of the saccade. We tested the hypothesis that the saccade produces a spatial weighting of motion around the endpoint of the saccade. Using a moving pursuit stimulus that stepped to a new spatial location just before a targeting saccade, we controlled the distance between the endpoint of the saccade and the position of the moving target. We demonstrate that the smooth eye velocity following the targeting saccade weights the presaccadic visual motion inputs by the distance from their location in space to the endpoint of the saccade, defining the extent of a spatiotemporal filter for driving the eyes. The center of the filter is located at the endpoint of the saccade in space, not at the position of the fovea. The filter is stable in the face of a distracter target, is present for saccades to stationary and moving targets, and affects both the speed and direction of the postsaccadic eye movement. The spatial filter can explain the target-selecting gain change in postsaccadic pursuit, and has intriguing parallels to the process by which perceptual decisions about a restricted region of space are enhanced by attention. The effect of the spatial saccade plan on the pursuit response to a given retinal motion describes the dynamics of a coordinate transformation.

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