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Open Access Research article

An analysis of the dependence of saccadic latency on target position and target characteristics in human subjects

Jennifer H Darrien, Katrina Herd, Lisa-Jo Starling, Jay R Rosenberg and James D Morrison*

Author Affiliations

West Medical Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ

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BMC Neuroscience 2001, 2:13  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-2-13

Published: 13 September 2001

Abstract

Background

Predictions from conduction velocity data for primate retinal ganglion cell axons indicate that the conduction time to the lateral geniculate nucleus for stimulation of peripheral retina should be no longer than for stimulation of central retina. On this basis, the latency of saccadic eye movements should not increase for more peripherally located targets. However, previous studies have reported relatively very large increases, which has the implication of a very considerable increase in central processing time for the saccade-generating system.

Results

In order to resolve this paradox, we have undertaken an extended series of experiments in which saccadic eye movements were recorded by electro-oculography in response to targets presented in the horizontal meridian in normal young subjects. For stationary or moving targets of either normal beam intensity or reduced red intensity, with the direction of gaze either straight ahead with respect to the head or directed eccentrically, the saccadic latency was shown to remain invariant with respect to a wide range of target angular displacements.

Conclusions

These results indicate that, irrespective of the angular displacement of the target, the direction of gaze or the target intensity, the saccade-generating system operates with a constant generation time.