Oculomotor freezing reflects tactile temporal expectation and aids tactile perception

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020

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