Increasing suppression of saccade-related transients along the human visual hierarchy


A key hallmark of visual perceptual awareness is robustness to instabilities arising from unnoticeable eye and eyelid movements. In previous human intracranial (iEEG) work (Golan et al., 2016) we found that excitatory broadband high-frequency activity transients, driven by eye blinks, are suppressed in higher-level but not early visual cortex. Here, we utilized the broad anatomical coverage of iEEG recordings in 12 eye-tracked neurosurgical patients to test whether a similar stabilizing mechanism operates following small saccades. We compared saccades (1.3°−3.7°) initiated during inspection of large individual visual objects with similarly-sized external stimulus displacements. Early visual cortex sites responded with positive transients to both conditions. In contrast, in both dorsal and ventral higher-level sites the response to saccades (but not to external displacements) was suppressed. These findings indicate that early visual cortex is highly unstable compared to higher-level visual regions which apparently constitute the main target of stabilizing extra-retinal oculomotor influences.