When each of many saccades is made to overshoot its target, amplitude gradually decreases in a form of motor learning called saccade adaptation. Overshoot is induced experimentally by a secondary, backwards intrasaccadic target step (ISS) triggered by the primary saccade. Surprisingly, however, no study has compared the effectiveness of different sizes of ISS in driving adaptation by systematically varying ISS amplitude across different sessions. Additionally, very few studies have examined the feasibility of adaptation with relatively small ISSs. In order to best understand saccade adaptation at a fundamental level, we addressed these two points in an experiment using a range of small, fixed ISS values (from 0° to 1° after a 10° primary target step). We found that significant adaptation occurred across subjects with an ISS as small as 0.25°. Interestingly, though only adaptation in response to 0.25° ISSs appeared to be complete (the magnitude of change in saccade amplitude was comparable to size of the ISS), further analysis revealed that a comparable proportion of the ISS was compensated for across conditions. Finally, we found that ISS size alone was sufficient to explain the magnitude of adaptation we observed; additional factors did not significantly improve explanatory power. Overall, our findings suggest that current assumptions regarding the computation of saccadic error may need to be revisited.
Herman, J. P., Cloud, C. P. & Wallman, J. (2013). End-Point Variability Is Not Noise in Saccade Adaptation. PLoS ONE, 8(3), e59731. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059731.