Author(s): Frens MA, Van Opstal AJ
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Abstract We investigated the properties of human saccadic eye movements evoked by acoustic stimuli in the two-dimensional frontal plane. These movements proved to be quite accurate, both in azimuth and in elevation, provided the sound source spectrum had a broad bandwidth and a sufficiently long duration. If the acoustic target was a tone, the azimuth of the saccadic end points remained equally accurate, whereas the elevation of the response was related to the frequency of the tone, rather than to the physical position of the target. Saccade elevation accuracy also declined substantially for short-duration noise bursts, although response elevation remained highly correlated with target elevation. The latencies of auditory saccades depended on the amplitude, but not on the direction of the eye movement, suggesting a polar coordinate origin of auditory saccade initiation. We also observed that the trajectories of auditory saccades were often substantially curved. Both a qualitative and a model-based analysis showed that this curvature corrected for errors in the initial direction of the saccade. The latter analysis also suggested that the kinematic properties of auditory saccades could be described by the superposition of two overlapping saccadic eye movements, hypothesized to be based on binaural difference cues and monaural spectral cues in the auditory signal, respectively. It is argued that, although the audio-oculomotor system has to operate in a feedforward way, it must nevertheless have access to an accurate representation of actual and desired eye position. Different models underlying the generation of auditory saccades are discussed.
This article was published in Exp Brain Res
and referenced in Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Medical Devices