New project funded on the dynamics of oculomotor plasticity

We just got a grant accepted, supporting a collaboration with Thérèse Collins (Université Paris Descartes). They needed an acronym, so we named it DOMINIONDynamics of OculoMotor adaptation and its INteraction with perceptION. That was the hardest part of the work.

The project has been selected as one of 13 collaborative projects, co-funded by the  DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and the ANR (L’Agence nationale de la recherche). The project starts in March.

Here is the abstract:

Saccadic eye movements are the visual system ́s dexterous camera work that allows exploration of the fine details of a visual scene. Maintaining their accuracy during arousal and fatigue, throughout developmental or pathological modifications, is thus of primary importance for our ability to see and act. This project aims to further our understanding of behavioral plasticity in the visuo-motor system of healthy adult participants by investigating the dynamics of saccadic adaptation across time-scales ranging from 1 to 100,000 saccades. We propose novel, sensitive paradigms and analyses to investigate the spatiotemporal evolution that characterizes saccadic adaptation following sequences of saccadic errors. Our project has three major goals. The first is to establish the temporal profile of saccadic adaptation. Adaptation has been reported to occur on very short time-scales, adjusting saccade amplitudes from trial to trial, but also on longer time-scales, up to several days. We aim to uncover the temporal resolution of adaptive amplitude changes by answering several questions: Does adaptation occur as a consequence of single saccades and what is the sensitivity of the system on such short time-scale? Do slow fluctuations in saccadic errors affect the state of adaptation and how flexibly does saccadic plasticity adjust to the statistics of such regularities? Our second goal is to understand the spatial profile of saccadic adaptation. Saccadic adaptation has been reported to be a local phenomenon, selective for particular saccade metrics, but can also evolve rapidly on a global scale, affecting saccades of all metrics. By investigating how vector-specificity evolves across time, we hope to provide a unified account of these two findings. Finally, we aim to investigate the interplay between saccadic adaptation and visual perception. Perceptual sensitivity to the saccade errors that cause adaptation may influence how adaptation unfolds, and how adaptation occurs concurrently with changes in the perception of space. We plan to apply the procedures used to determine the temporal resolution of adaptation to understand the dynamic interactions of motor and perceptual changes. By tackling these key questions in the field of saccadic adaptation with a set of innovative methods, we will map out the sensitivity of the visuo-motor system to incongruities between our movements and their visual goals.

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