Eye movement sequence generation in humans: Motor or goal updating?

Christian Quaia, Wilsaan Joiner, Edmond J. FitzGibbon, Lance M. Optican, Maurice A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Saccadic eye movements are often grouped in pre-programmed sequences. The mechanism underlying the generation of each saccade in a sequence is currently poorly understood. Broadly speaking, two alternative schemes are possible: first, after each saccade the retinotopic location of the next target could be estimated, and an appropriate saccade could be generated. We call this the goal updating hypothesis. Alternatively, multiple motor plans could be pre-computed, and they could then be updated after each movement. Wecall this the motor updating hypothesis. Weused McLaughlin's intra-saccadic step paradigm to artificially create a condition under which these two hypotheses make discriminable predictions. We found that in human subjects, when sequences of two saccades are planned, the motor updating hypothesis predicts the landing position of the second saccade in two-saccade sequences much better than the goal updating hypothesis. This finding suggests that the human saccadic system is capable of executing sequences of saccades to multiple targets by planning multiple motor commands, which are then updated by serial subtraction of ongoing motor output.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number14
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Eye movements
  • Memory
  • Plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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