Do microsaccades vary with discriminability around the visual field?

Simran Purokayastha, Mariel Roberts, Marisa Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microsaccades-tiny fixational eye movements-improve discriminability in high-acuity tasks in the foveola. To investigate whether they help compensate for low discriminability at the perifovea, we examined microsaccade characteristics relative to the adult visual performance field, which is characterized by two perceptual asymmetries: horizontal-vertical anisotropy (better discrimination along the horizontal than vertical meridian) and vertical meridian asymmetry (better discrimination along the lower than upper vertical meridian). We investigated whether and to what extent microsaccade directionality varies when stimuli are at isoeccentric locations along the cardinals under conditions of heterogeneous discriminability (Experiment 1) and homogeneous discriminability, equated by adjusting stimulus contrast (Experiment 2). Participants performed a two-alternative forced-choice orientation discrimination task. In both experiments, performance was better on trials without microsaccades between ready signal onset and stimulus offset than on trials with microsaccades. Across the trial sequence, the microsaccade rate and directional pattern were similar across locations. Our results indicate that microsaccades were similar regardless of stimulus discriminability and target location, except during the response period-once the stimuli were no longer present and target location no longer uncertain-when microsaccades were biased toward the target location. Thus, this study reveals that microsaccades do not flexibly adapt as a function of varying discriminability in a basic visual task around the visual field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 3 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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