Microsaccades belong to the category of fixational micromovements and may be crucial for image stability on the retina. Eye movement paradigms typically require fixational control, but this does not eliminate all oculomotor activity. The antisaccade task requires a planned eye movement in the direction opposite of an onset, allowing separation of planning and execution. We build on previous studies of microsaccades in the antisaccade task using a combination of fixed and mixed pro- and antisaccade blocks. We hypothesized that microsaccade rates may be reduced prior to the execution of antisaccades as compared with regular saccades (prosaccades). In two experiments, we measured microsaccades in four conditions across three trial blocks: one block each of fixed prosaccade and antisaccade trials, and a mixed block where both saccade types were randomized. We anticipated that microsaccade rates would be higher prior to antisaccades than prosaccades due to the need to preemptively suppress reflexive saccades during antisaccade generation. In Experiment 1, with monocular eye tracking, there was an interaction between the effects of saccade and block type on microsaccade rates, suggesting lower rates on antisaccade trials, but only within mixed blocks. In Experiment 2, eye tracking was binocular, revealing suppressed microsaccade rates on antisaccade trials. A cluster permutation analysis of the microsaccade rate over the course of a trial did not reveal any particular critical time for this difference in microsaccade rates. Our findings suggest that microsaccade rates reflect the degree of suppression of the oculomotor system during the antisaccade task.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Data collection and analysis were partially funded by the University of Iceland's research fund, the Icelandic Research Fund and the HSE academic fund program for the scientific research lab “Vision Modelling Lab.”
Data collection and analysis were partially funded by the Icelandic Research Fund and the HSE academic fund program for the scientific research lab “Vision Modelling Lab.” Portions of these findings were presented as poster talks at the 2019 ECEM conference, Alicante, Spain, and at the 2020 online Psychonomics conference.
© 2023, The Psychonomic Society, Inc.
- Antisaccade task
- Executive control
- Oculomotor suppression