Saccades actively maintain perceptual continuity

John Ross, A.M. Ma Wyatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


People make saccades-rapid eye movements to a new fixation-approximately three times per second. This would seemingly disrupt perceptual continuity, yet our brains construct a coherent, stable view of the world from these successive fixations. There is conflicting evidence regarding the effects of saccades on perceptual continuity: some studies report that they are disruptive, with little information carryover between saccades; others report that carryover is substantial. Here we show that saccades actively contribute to perceptual continuity in humans in two different ways. When bistable stimuli are presented intermittently, saccades executed during the blank interval shorten the duration of states of ambiguous figures, indicating that saccades can erase immediately past perceptual states. On the other hand, they prolong the McCollough effect, indicating that saccades strengthen learned contingencies. Our results indicate that saccades help, rather than hinder, perceptual continuity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-69
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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