Feature integration theory proposes that visual features, such as shape and colour, can only be combined into a unified object when spatial attention is directed to their location in retinotopic maps. Eye movements cause dramatic changes on our retinae, and are associated with obligatory shifts in spatial attention. In two experiments, we measured the prevalence of conjunction errors (that is, reporting an object as having an attribute that belonged to another object), for brief stimulus presentation before, during, and after a saccade. Planning and executing a saccade did not itself disrupt feature integration. Motion did disrupt feature integration, leading to an increase in conjunction errors. However, retinal motion of an equal extent but caused by saccadic eye movements is spared this disruption, and showed similar rates of conjunction errors as a condition with static stimuli presented to a static eye. The results suggest extra-retinal signals are able to compensate for the motion caused by saccadic eye movements, thereby preserving the integrity of objects across saccades and preventing their features from mixing or mis-binding.
- eye movements
- object recognition