Brain processing of visual information during fast eye movements maintains motor performance.
Panouillères M., Gaveau V., Socasau C., Urquizar C., Pélisson D.
Movement accuracy depends crucially on the ability to detect errors while actions are being performed. When inaccuracies occur repeatedly, both an immediate motor correction and a progressive adaptation of the motor command can unfold. Of all the movements in the motor repertoire of humans, saccadic eye movements are the fastest. Due to the high speed of saccades, and to the impairment of visual perception during saccades, a phenomenon called "saccadic suppression", it is widely believed that the adaptive mechanisms maintaining saccadic performance depend critically on visual error signals acquired after saccade completion. Here, we demonstrate that, contrary to this widespread view, saccadic adaptation can be based entirely on visual information presented during saccades. Our results show that visual error signals introduced during saccade execution--by shifting a visual target at saccade onset and blanking it at saccade offset--induce the same level of adaptation as error signals, presented for the same duration, but after saccade completion. In addition, they reveal that this processing of intra-saccadic visual information for adaptation depends critically on visual information presented during the deceleration phase, but not the acceleration phase, of the saccade. These findings demonstrate that the human central nervous system can use short intra-saccadic glimpses of visual information for motor adaptation, and they call for a reappraisal of current models of saccadic adaptation.