Saccadic suppression is embedded within extended oscillatory modulation of sensitivity

Alessandro Benedetto, Maria Concetta Morrone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Action and perception are intimately coupled systems. One clear case is saccadic suppression, the reduced visibility around the time of saccades, which is important in mediating visual stability; another is the oscillatory modulation of visibility synchronized with hand action. To suppress effectively the spurious retinal motion generated by the eye movements, it is crucial that saccadic suppression and saccadic onset be temporally synchronous. However, the mechanisms that determine this temporal synchrony are unknown. We investigated the effect of saccades on contrast discrimination sensitivity over a long period stretching over >1 s before and after saccade execution. Human subjects made horizontal saccades at will to two stationary saccadic targets separated by 20°. At a random interval, a brief Gabor patch was displayed between the two fixations in either the upper or lower visual field and the subject had to detect its location. Strong saccadic suppression was measured between -50 and 50 ms from saccadic onset. However, the suppression was systematically embedded in a trough of oscillations of contrast sensitivity that fluctuated rhythmically in the delta range (at ∼3 Hz), commencing ∼1 s before saccade execution and lasting for up to 1 s after the saccade. The results show that saccadic preparation and visual sensitivity oscillations are coupled and the coupling might be instrumental in temporally aligning the initiation of the saccade with the visual suppression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3661-3670
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Mar 29 2017


  • Action and perception
  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Eye movements
  • Saccadic suppression
  • Sensorimotor integration
  • Visual oscillations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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