The programming of sequences of saccades

Eugene McSorley*, Iain D Gilchrist, Rachel McCloy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
316 Downloads (Pure)


Saccadic eye movements move the high-resolution fovea to point at regions of interest. Saccades can only be generated serially (i.e., one at a time). However, what remains unclear is the extent to which saccades are programmed in parallel (i.e., a series of such moments can be planned together) and how far ahead such planning occurs. In the current experiment, we investigate this issue with a saccade contingent preview paradigm. Participants were asked to execute saccadic eye movements in response to seven small circles presented on a screen. The extent to which participants were given prior information about target locations was varied on a trial-by-trial basis: participants were aware of the location of the next target only, the next three, five, or all seven targets. The addition of new targets to the display was made during the saccade to the next target in the sequence. The overall time taken to complete the sequence was decreased as more targets were available up to all seven targets. This was a result of a reduction in the number of saccades being executed and a reduction in their saccade latencies. Surprisingly, these results suggest that, when faced with a demand to saccade to a large number of target locations, saccade preparation about all target locations is carried out in parallel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1009-1018
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
Early online date6 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2019

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Visual Perception


  • Eye movements
  • Parallel programming
  • Saccade
  • Sequences


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