Voluntary saccadic eye movements in humans studied with a double-cue paradigm

BM Sheliga, Verity Joy Brown, FA Miles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


In the classic double-step paradigm, subjects are required to make a saccade to a visual target that is briefly presented at one location and then shifted to a new location before the subject has responded. The saccades in this situation are "reflexive" in that they are made in response to the appearance of the target itself. In the present experiments we adapted the double-step paradigm to study "voluntary" saccades. For this, several identical targets were always visible and subjects were given a cue to indicate that they should make a saccade to one of them. This cue was then changed to indicate another of the targets before the subject had responded: double-cue (DC) paradigm. The saccadic eye movements in our DC paradigm had many features in common with those in the double-step paradigm and we show that apparent differences can be attributed to the spatio-temporal arrangements of the cues/targets rather than to any intrinsic differences in the programming of these two kinds of eye movements. For example, a feature of our DC paradigm that is not seen in the usual double-step paradigm is that the second cue could cause transient delays of the initial saccade, and these delays still occurred when the second cue was reflexive-provided that it was at the fovea (as in our DC paradigm) and not in the periphery (as in the usual double-step paradigm). Thus, the critical factor for the delay was the retinal (foveal) location of the second cue/target-not whether it was cognitive or reflexive-and we argue that the second cue/target is here acting as a distractor. We conclude that the DC paradigm can be used to study the programming of voluntary saccades in the same way that the double-step paradigm can be used to study reflexive saccades. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1897-1915
Number of pages19
JournalVision Research
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002


  • saccadic eye movements
  • double-step paradigm
  • cognitive cues


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