Plasticity in the adult oculomotor system: Offline consolidation phase gains in saccade sequence learning

Noya Meital, Sebastian Peter Korinth, Avi Karni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

When do adults gain in learning an oculomotor sequence? Here we show that oculomotor training can result not only in performance gains within the training session, but also induce robust offline gains in both speed and accuracy. Participants were trained and tested over two consecutive days to perform a sequence of successive saccades. Saccades were directed to four target letters, presented simultaneously at fixed positions. A two alternative-forced choice question, after each trial, ensured that all targets were perceived. Eye tracking measures were tested at the beginning and end of the training session as well as at 24 h post-training. Practice resulted in within-session gains in accuracy and a reduction of target fixation duration (although total trial duration remained unchanged). In addition, the total average path length traveled by the eye increased, reflecting a decrease in undershoot saccades. At 24 h post-training, however, additional gains were expressed in both speed and accuracy of performance; the total trial duration as well as the fixation-position-offsets and the number of corrective saccades decreased. The expression of delayed gains indicates offline skill consolidation processes in the eye-movement control system. Our results show that the optimization of some aspect, specifically saccade speed parameters, of oculomotor sequence performance evolves mainly offline, during the post-training consolidation phase, a pattern suggestive of learning in an expert system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-48
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Research
Volume1528
DOIs
StatePublished - 28 Aug 2013

Keywords

  • Consolidation
  • Fixation
  • Learning phase
  • Oculomotor learning
  • Saccade

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology

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