Attentional trade-offs maintain the tracking of moving objects across saccades

J Neurophysiol. 2015 Apr 1;113(7):2220-31. doi: 10.1152/jn.00966.2014. Epub 2015 Jan 21.


In many situations like playing sports or driving a car, we keep track of moving objects, despite the frequent eye movements that drastically interrupt their retinal motion trajectory. Here we report evidence that transsaccadic tracking relies on trade-offs of attentional resources from a tracked object's motion path to its remapped location. While participants covertly tracked a moving object, we presented pulses of coherent motion at different locations to probe the allocation of spatial attention along the object's entire motion path. Changes in the sensitivity for these pulses showed that during fixation attention shifted smoothly in anticipation of the tracked object's displacement. However, just before a saccade, attentional resources were withdrawn from the object's current motion path and reflexively drawn to the retinal location the object would have after saccade. This finding demonstrates the predictive choice the visual system makes to maintain the tracking of moving objects across saccades.

Keywords: attention; remapping; saccades; tracking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult