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Neural Mechanisms of Saccadic Suppression

Science  29 Mar 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5564, pp. 2460-2462
DOI: 10.1126/science.1068788

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Abstract

In normal vision our gaze leaps from detail to detail, resulting in rapid image motion across the retina. Yet we are unaware of such motion, a phenomenon known as saccadic suppression. We recorded neural activity in the middle temporal and middle superior temporal cortical areas during saccades and identical image motion under passive viewing conditions. Some neurons were selectively silenced during saccadic image motion, but responded well to identical external image motion. In addition, a subpopulation of neurons reversed their preferred direction of motion during saccades. Consequently, oppositely directed motion signals annul one another, and motion percepts are suppressed.

  • * Present address: Department of Psychology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: kph{at}neurobiologie.ruhr-uni-bochum.de

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