Saccades and drifts differentially modulate neuronal activity in V1: effects of retinal image motion, position, and extraretinal influences.
In natural vision, continuously changing input is generated by fast saccadic eye movements and slow drifts. We analyzed effects of fixational saccades, voluntary saccades, and drifts on the activity of macaque V1 neurons. Effects of fixational saccades and small voluntary saccades were equivalent. In the presence of a near-optimal stimulus, separate populations of neurons fired transient bursts after saccades, sustained discharges during drifts, or both. Strength, time course, and selectivity of activation by fast and slow eye movements were strongly correlated with responses to flashed or to externally moved stimuli. These neuronal properties support complementary functions for post-saccadic bursts and drift responses. Local post-saccadic bursts signal rapid motion or abrupt change of potentially salient stimuli within the receptive field; widespread synchronized bursts signal occurrence of a saccade. Sustained firing during drifts conveys more specific information about location and contrast of small spatial features that contribute to perception of fine detail. In addition to stimulus-driven responses, biphasic extraretinal modulation accompanying saccades was identified in one third of the cells. Brief perisaccadic suppression was followed by stronger and longer-lasting enhancement that could bias perception in favor of saccade targets. These diverse patterns of neuronal activation underlie the dynamic encoding of our visual world.