Presaccadic Attention Depends on Eye Movement Direction and Is Related to V1 Cortical Magnification

Nina M. Hanning, Marc M. Himmelberg, Marisa Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With every saccadic eye movement, humans bring new information into their fovea to be processed with high visual acuity. Notably, perception is enhanced already before a relevant item is foveated: During saccade preparation, presaccadic attention shifts to the upcoming fixation location, which can be measured via behavioral correlates such as enhanced visual performance or modulations of sensory feature tuning. The coupling between saccadic eye movements and attention is assumed to be robust and mandatory and considered a mechanism facilitating the integration of pre- and postsaccadic information. However, until recently it had not been investigated as a function of saccade direction. Here, we measured contrast response functions during fixation and saccade preparation in male and female observers and found that the pronounced response gain benefit typically elicited by presaccadic attention is selectively lacking before upward saccades at the group level—some observers even showed a cost. Individual observer’s sensitivity before upward saccades was negatively related to their amount of surface area in primary visual cortex representing the saccade target, suggesting a potential compensatory mechanism that optimizes the use of the limited neural resources processing the upper vertical meridian. Our results raise the question of how perceptual continuity is achieved and how upward saccades can be accurately targeted despite the lack of—theoretically required—presaccadic attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1023232023
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 20 2024


  • contrast sensitivity
  • cortical magnification
  • polar angle asymmetries
  • presaccadic attention
  • primary visual cortex
  • saccadic eye movements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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