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Express saccades (ES) are the most reflexive saccadic eye movements, with very short reaction times of 70– 110 ms. It is likely that ES have the shortest saccade reaction times (SRTs) possible given the known physiological and anatomical delays present in sensory and motor systems. Nevertheless, it has been demonstrated that a vector displacement of ES to spatially extended stimuli can be influenced by spatial cognition. Edelman, Kristjansson, and Nakayama (2007) found that when two horizontally separated visual stimuli appear at a random location, the spatial vector, but not the reaction time, of human ES is strongly influenced by an instruction to make a saccade to one side (either left or right) of a visual stimulus array. Presently, we attempt to extend these findings of cognitive effects on saccades in three ways: (a) determining whether ES could be affected by other types of spatial instructions: vertical, polar amplitude, and polar direction; (b) determining whether these spatial effects increased with practice; and (c) determining how these effects depended on SRTs. The results demonstrate that both types of Cartesian as well as polar amplitude instructions strongly affect ES vector, but only modestly affect SRTs. Polar direction instructions had sizable effects only on nonreflexive saccades where the visual stimuli could be viewed for several hundred milliseconds prior to saccade execution. Short- (trial order within a block) and longterm (experience across several sessions) practice had little effect, though the effect of instruction increased with SRT. Such findings suggest a generalized, innate ability of cognition to affect the most reflexive saccadic eye movements.


This article was originally published in Journal of Vision, available at doi:10.1167/17.3.2.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.



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