News of the WeekNeuroscience

Neurons Turn a Blind Eye to Eye Movements

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Science  29 Mar 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5564, pp. 2347
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5564.2347

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When our eyes dart from place to place, the brain smooths the scene by briefly blanking out visual perception when the eyes jump, a momentary blindness known as saccadic suppression. Some argue that the brain does this solely based on information coming from the retina, while others think it uses additional, nonretinal signals coming from brain areas such as those that move the eyes. Now researchers have the first hard evidence for such an "extraretinal" mechanism. On page 2460, researchers report that they have identified visual neurons that distinguish between real movements of a scene and the shifts caused by saccades.