Selective suppression of the magnocellular visual pathway during saccadic eye movements

Nature. 1994 Oct 6;371(6497):511-3. doi: 10.1038/371511a0.


Visual scientists have long sought to explain why the world remains stable during saccades, the ballistic eye-movements that continually displace the retinal image at fast but resolvable velocities. An early suggestion was that vision may be actively suppressed during saccades, but experimental support has been variable. Here we present evidence that saccadic suppression does occur, but that it is selective for patterns modulated in luminance at low spatial frequencies. Patterns of higher spatial frequency, and equiluminant patterns (modulated only in colour) at all spatial frequencies were not suppressed during saccades, but actually enhanced. The selectivity of the suppression suggests that it is confined to the colour-blind magnocellular stream (which provides the dominant input to motion centres and areas involved with attention), where it could dull the otherwise disturbing sense of fast low-spatial-frequency image motion. Masking studies suggest that the suppression precedes the site of contrast masking and may therefore occur early in visual processing, possibly as early as the lateral geniculate nucleus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Color Perception / physiology
  • Contrast Sensitivity
  • Humans
  • Neural Inhibition
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*