About three years ago, we have started working on perception during saccadic eye movements — that is, when the eyes are in mid-flight from one point in the scene to the next. Using a quite unique high-speed projection setup that allows us to rapidly (yet smoothly) move stimuli on the screen, we keep finding new answers to questions like: Can we see during these rapid gaze shifts, if so, what is it we see? What is the function of intra-saccadic perception? And why do we not usually experience the sweep of the retinal image across the retina that occurs as a consequence of saccadic eye movements about three times per second (a phenomenon called saccadic omission)?
It is that latter question that we addressed in a study now published in a special issue Consciousness & Cognition, compiled in memoriam of Bruce Bridgman, a pioneer in the psychophysical study of active vision. Our data suggest that attentional distraction contributes to saccadic omission, in addition to strong influences of pre- or post-saccadic masking. Having known Bruce for our entire academic lives, we are rather certain that he would have been intrigued by these results.
This is the lab’s first paper in this line of work and it is the result of an extremely fruitful collaboration with the most insightful Tamara Watson at Western Sydney University, funded by the German Academic Exchange Service and Universities Australia. We are very happy to have it out in the open and are looking forward to any comments.
It was in fact the fastest project we have ever worked on, going from conception to the acceptance of the paper in less than a year (in the unlikely event that you are not an academic: that is about 2 to 8 times faster than usual). This incredible feat was accomplished by the amazing Tarryn Balsdon. Now a postdoc at the ENS in Paris, she came visit our lab for a 3-month period during the summer of 2017 (when she was still a PhD student at UNSW Sydney).
Here is the reference and the pdf:
Balsdon, T., Schweitzer, R., Watson, T. L., & Rolfs, M. (in press). All is not lost: Post-saccadic contributions to the perceptual omission of intra-saccadic streaks. Consciousness and Cognition. [pdf]