Transfer of short-term adaptation in human saccadic eye movements

Exp Brain Res. 1994;100(2):293-306. doi: 10.1007/BF00227199.


Controversy exists as to the extent to which the saccadic system, adapted in the so-called 'gain-shortening paradigm' for a particular target configuration, transfers the resulting change in saccade metrics to saccades elicited under different circumstances. In order to further assess this problem, we investigated the properties of human saccadic eye movements after visually induced short-term adaptation under a variety of conditions. We observed that saccades both during and after the adaptation did not significantly change their main sequence properties with respect to the pre-adaptation baseline. Saccade velocity profiles remained normal throughout the experiment, and we obtained no evidence that correction saccades were gradually absorbed in the primary saccade. We found that the effect of the short-term adaptation on saccade metrics is not confined to the particular combination of initial eye position and spatial position of the visual target used to induce the adaptation response. Saccades elicited from different initial positions towards targets with the same retinotopic coordinates as in the adaptation phase yield the same level of adaptation. However, our findings indicate that adaptation is confined to a limited range of saccade vectors around the oculocentric coordinates of the adaptation target ('restricted adaptation field'). Smaller and larger saccades are endowed with significantly lower adaptation values. Moreover, two further experiments showed that a retinal stimulus is not a prerequisite for adaptation to express itself: First, in a double-step experiment, we dissociated the retinal stimulus vector from the required oculomotor response. Second, we also investigated the effect of visually induced adaptation on auditory evoked saccades. In both tasks the adaptation was transferred to the required motor response. Based on our findings, we conclude that short-term adaptation is expressed at a multisensory stage, where saccadic eye movements are represented as desired eye displacement vectors (motor error). Possible neurophysiological implications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Sound Localization / physiology