The significance of microsaccades for vision and oculomotor control

H (Han) Collewijn, E Kowler

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140 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past decade several research groups have taken a renewed interest in the special role of a type of small eye movement, called 'microsaccades', in various visual processes, such as the activation of neurons in the central nervous system, or the prevention of image fading. As the study of microsaccades and their relation to visual processes goes back at least half a century, it seems appropriate to review the more recent reports in light of the history of research on maintained oculomotor fixation, in general, and on microsaccades in particular. Our review shows that there is no compelling evidence to support the view that microsaccades (or, fixation saccades more generally) serve a necessary role in improving oculomotor control or in keeping the visual world visible. The role of the retinal transients produced by small saccades during fixation needs to be evaluated in the context of both the brisk image motions present during active visual tasks performed by freely moving people, as well as the role of selective attention in modulating the strength of signals throughout the visual field.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Research programs

  • EMC ONWAR-01-94-01

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