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Microsaccades are triggered by low retinal image slip

Authors
  • Ralf Engbert
  • Konstantin Mergenthaler
Publisher
National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
Apr 21, 2006
Source
PMC
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Computer Science
License
Unknown

Abstract

Even during visual fixation of a stationary target, our eyes perform rather erratic miniature movements, which represent a random walk. These “fixational” eye movements counteract perceptual fading, a consequence of fast adaptation of the retinal receptor systems to constant input. The most important contribution to fixational eye movements is produced by microsaccades; however, a specific function of microsaccades only recently has been found. Here we show that the occurrence of microsaccades is correlated with low retinal image slip ≈200 ms before microsaccade onset. This result suggests that microsaccades are triggered dynamically, in contrast to the current view that microsaccades are randomly distributed in time characterized by their rate-of-occurrence of 1 to 2 per second. As a result of the dynamic triggering mechanism, individual microsaccade rate can be predicted by the fractal dimension of trajectories. Finally, we propose a minimal computational model for the dynamic triggering of microsaccades.

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