Associate Professor of Psychology Michele Rucci, recent Cognitive & Neural Systems PhD recipient Hee-kyoung Ko (GRS'09), and Department of Psychology post-doctoral associate Martina Poletti authored an article published in Nature Neuroscience on October 31. The paper is titled "Microsaccades precisely relocate gaze in a high visual acuity task," and it explores the role of microscopic relocations of gaze in helping humans perform fine visual tasks.
Return to the November 1, 2010 Newsletter
The image on the retina is never stationary. Microscopic relocations of gaze, known as microsaccades, occur even during steady fixation. It is a long-standing proposal that microsaccades enable exploration of small regions in the scene in the same way saccades are normally used to scan larger regions. This hypothesis, however, has remained controversial, since it is believed that microsaccades are suppressed during fine spatial judgments. The authors examined the eye movements of human observers in a high-acuity visuomotor task, the threading of a needle in a computer-simulated virtual environment. By using a method for gaze-contingent display that enables accurate localization of the line of sight, they show that microsaccades precisely move the eye to nearby regions of interest and are dynamically modulated by the ongoing demands of the task. These results demonstrate that microsaccades are part of the oculomotor strategy by which the visual system acquires fine spatial detail.