Low-level visual information is maintained across saccades, allowing for a postsaccadic handoff between visual areas

Jasper H. Fabius, Alessio Fracasso, David J. Acunzo, Stefan van der Stigchel, David Melcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Experience seems continuous and detailed despite saccadic eye movements changing retinal input several times per second. There is debate whether neural signals related to updating across saccades contain information about stimulus features, or only location pointers without visual details. We investigated the time course of low-level visual information processing across saccades by decoding the spatial frequency of a stationary stimulus that changed from one visual hemifield to the other because of a horizontal saccadic eye movement. We recorded magnetoencephalography while human subjects (both sexes) monitored the orientation of a grating stimulus, making spatial frequency task irrelevant. Separate trials, in which subjects maintained fixation, were used to train a classifier, whose performance was then tested on saccade trials. Decoding performance showed that spatial frequency information of the presaccadic stimulus remained present for ∼200 ms after the saccade, transcending retinotopic specificity. Postsaccadic information ramped up rapidly after saccade offset. There was an overlap of over 100 ms during which decoding was significant from both presaccadic and postsaccadic processing areas. This suggests that the apparent richness of perception across saccades may be supported by the continuous availability of low-level information with a "soft handoff" of information during the initial processing sweep of the new fixation. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Saccades create frequent discontinuities in visual input, yet perception appears stable and continuous. How is this discontinuous input processed resulting in visual stability? Previous studies have focused on presaccadic remapping. Here we examined the time course of processing of low-level visual information (spatial frequency) across saccades with magnetoencephalography. The results suggest that spatial frequency information is not predictively remapped but also is not discarded. Instead, they suggest a soft handoff over time between different visual areas, making this information continuously available across the saccade. Information about the presaccadic stimulus remains available, while the information about the postsaccadic stimulus has also become available. The simultaneous availability of both the presaccadic and postsaccadic information could enable rich and continuous perception across saccades.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9476-9486
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 2 2020


  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Multivariate pattern analysis
  • Saccades
  • Vision
  • Visual stability
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Visual Perception/physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orientation
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Evoked Potentials/physiology
  • Young Adult
  • Visual Cortex/physiology
  • Visual Fields
  • Mental Processes/physiology
  • Space Perception
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Saccades/physiology
  • Photic Stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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