Oculomotor freezing reflects tactile temporal expectation and aids tactile perception

Stephanie Badde*, Caroline F. Myers, Shlomit Yuval-Greenberg, Marisa Carrasco

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The oculomotor system keeps the eyes steady in expectation of visual events. Here, recording microsaccades while people performed a tactile, frequency discrimination task enabled us to test whether the oculomotor system shows an analogous preparatory response for unrelated tactile events. We manipulated the temporal predictability of tactile targets using tactile cues, which preceded the target by either constant (high predictability) or variable (low predictability) time intervals. We find that microsaccades are inhibited prior to tactile targets and more so for constant than variable intervals, revealing a tight crossmodal link between tactile temporal expectation and oculomotor action. These findings portray oculomotor freezing as a marker of crossmodal temporal expectation. Moreover, microsaccades occurring around the tactile target presentation are associated with reduced task performance, suggesting that oculomotor freezing mitigates potential detrimental, concomitant effects of microsaccades and revealing a crossmodal coupling between tactile perception and oculomotor action.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3341
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020


FundersFunder number
National Institutes of HealthR01-EY019693
National Eye InstituteR21EY026185
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation2015201


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