The influence of distractors on express saccades

Jessica Heeman*, Stefan Van der Stigchel, Jan Theeuwes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


It is well known that regular target-driven saccades are affected by the presence of close and remote distractors. Distractors close to the target affect the saccade landing position (known as the global effect), while remote distractors prolong saccade latencies to the target (known as the remote-distractor effect). Little is known about whether a different population of saccades known as express saccades (saccades with very short latencies between 80 and 130 ms) is similarly affected by close and remote distractors, as these saccades are considered to be the result of advanced preparation of an oculomotor program toward the target. We designed a task in which we were able to generate a large number of express saccades, as evidenced by a separate and very early peak in the saccade-latency distribution-a distribution that was different from that of regular saccades. Our results show that irrelevant and unexpected visual input had a large effect on express saccades. We found a global and a remote-distractor effect which were similar to those seen in regular saccades. Even though our findings confirm the existence of very-short-latency saccades in humans, it is questionable whether they represent a different population of saccades, as they were equally affected by the presence of distractors as are regular saccades.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • Bimodality
  • Express saccades
  • Global effect
  • Remote-distractor effect
  • Time course


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