New paper: Oculomotor inhibition covaries with conscious detection

Congratulations to Alex White, whose postdoc project just appeared in the Journal of Neurophysiology! The key finding of this paper is that the pattern of miniature eye movements immediately following the appearance of a stimulus—the reflexive inhibition of so-called microsaccades—reveals whether the observer has seen that stimulus or not. To some extent, this subjective perception can even be decoded from the eye movement patterns on a single-trial level.

Here is the New & Noteworthy section of the paper:

The eyes freeze in response to stimulus onsets. We developed a novel method to compare the sensitivity of this involuntary reflex to that of explicit perceptual detection. The two responses had similar contrast thresholds and were similarly affected by pattern adaptation. They also covaried across individual trials: the eyes froze if and only if the observer reported seeing a stimulus, even when none was present. Oculomotor inhibition therefore rapidly reveals the state of conscious perception.