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Spatial compression: Dissociable effects at the time of saccades and blinks

Various studies have identified systematic errors, such as spatial compression, when observers report the locations of objects displayed around the time of saccades. Localization errors also occur when holding spatial representations in visual working memory. Such errors, however, have not been examined in the context of eye blinks. In this study, we examined the effects of blinks and saccades when observers reproduced the locations of a set of briefly presented, randomly placed discs. Performance was compared with a fixation-only condition in which observers simply held these representations in working memory for the same duration; this allowed us to elucidate the relationship between the perceptual phenomena related to blinks, saccades, and visual working memory. Our results indicate that the same amount of spatial compression is experienced prior to a blink as is experienced in the control fixation-only condition, suggesting that blinks do not increase compression above that occurring from holding a spatial representation in visual memory. Saccades, however, tend to increase these compression effects and produce translational shifts both toward and away from saccade targets (depending on the time of the saccade onset in relation to the stimulus offset). A higher numerosity recall capacity was also observed when stimuli were presented prior to a blink in comparison with the other conditions. These findings reflect key differences underlying blinks and saccades in terms of spatial compression and translational shifts. Such results suggest that separate mechanisms maintain perceptual stability across these visual events.



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