Choice of saccade endpoint under risk

John F. Ackermann, Michael S. Landy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Eye movements function to bring detailed information onto the high-resolution region of the retina. Previous research has shown that human observers select fixation points that maximize information acquisition and minimize target location uncertainty. In this study, we ask whether human observers choose the saccade endpoint that maximizes gain when there are explicit rewards associated with correctly detecting the target. Observers performed an 8-alternative forced-choice detection task for a contrast-defined target in noise. After a single saccade, observers indicated the target location. Each potential target location had an associated reward that was known to the observer. In some conditions, the reward at one location was higher than at the other locations. We compared human saccade endpoints to those of an ideal observer that maximizes expected gain given the respective human observer's visibility map, i.e., d' for target detection as a function of retinal location. Varying the location of the highest reward had a significant effect on human observers' distribution of saccade endpoints. Both human and ideal observers show a high density of saccades made toward the highest rewarded and actual target locations. But humans' overall spatial distributions of saccade endpoints differed significantly from the ideal observer as they made a greater number of saccade to locations far from the highest rewarded and actual target locations. Suboptimal choice of saccade endpoint, possibly in combination with suboptimal integration of information across saccades, had a significant effect on human observers' ability to correctly detect the target and maximize gain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


  • ideal observer
  • saccade
  • visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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