Foveal vision anticipates defining features of eye movement targets

  1. Lisa M Kroell  Is a corresponding author
  2. Martin Rolfs  Is a corresponding author
  1. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany


High-acuity foveal processing is vital for human vision. Nonetheless, little is known about how the preparation of large-scale rapid eye movements (saccades) affects visual sensitivity in the center of gaze. Based on findings from passive fixation tasks, we hypothesized that during saccade preparation, foveal processing anticipates soon-to-be fixated visual features. Using a dynamic large-field noise paradigm, we indeed demonstrate that defining features of an eye movement target are enhanced in the pre-saccadic center of gaze. Enhancement manifested as higher Hit Rates for foveal probes with target-congruent orientation and a sensitization to incidental, target-like orientation information in foveally presented noise. Enhancement was spatially confined to the center of gaze and its immediate vicinity, even after parafoveal task performance had been raised to a foveal level. Moreover, foveal enhancement during saccade preparation was more pronounced and developed faster than enhancement during passive fixation. Based on these findings, we suggest a crucial contribution of foveal processing to trans-saccadic visual continuity: Foveal processing of saccade targets commences before the movement is executed and thereby enables a seamless transition once the center of gaze reaches the target.

Data availability

All data (psychophysical data, timing data, eye movement data, stimulus information) along with all experimental scripts are available on the Open Science Framework:

The following data sets were generated

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Lisa M Kroell

    Department of Psychology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-3508-5214
  2. Martin Rolfs

    Department of Psychology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-8214-8556


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (RO3579/8-1)

  • Martin Rolfs

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (RO3579/9-1)

  • Martin Rolfs

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (RO3579/12-1)

  • Martin Rolfs

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Human subjects: Participants gave written informed consent before the experiments. All studies complied with the Declaration of Helsinki in its latest version and were approved by the Ethics Committee of the Department of Psychology at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (reference number: 2018-09).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Krystel R Huxlin, University of Rochester, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: February 23, 2022
  2. Accepted: September 3, 2022
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: September 9, 2022 (version 1)
  4. Accepted Manuscript updated: September 13, 2022 (version 2)


© 2022, Kroell & Rolfs

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


  • 282
    Page views
  • 147
  • 0

Article citation count generated by polling the highest count across the following sources: Crossref, PubMed Central, Scopus.

Download links

A two-part list of links to download the article, or parts of the article, in various formats.

Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)

Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)

Cite this article (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)

  1. Lisa M Kroell
  2. Martin Rolfs
Foveal vision anticipates defining features of eye movement targets
eLife 11:e78106.

Further reading

    1. Neuroscience
    Alison R Weiss, William A Liguore ... Jodi L McBride
    Research Article

    We created a new nonhuman primate model of the genetic neurodegenerative disorder Huntington’s disease (HD) by injecting a mixture of recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors, serotypes AAV2 and AAV2.retro, each expressing a fragment of human mutant HTT (mHTT) into the caudate and putamen of adult rhesus macaques. This modeling strategy results in expression of mutant huntingtin protein (mHTT) and aggregate formation in the injected brain regions, as well as dozens of other cortical and subcortical brain regions affected in human HD patients. We queried the disruption of cortico-basal ganglia circuitry for 30 months post-surgery using a variety of behavioral and imaging readouts. Compared to controls, mHTT-treated macaques developed working memory decline and progressive motor impairment. Multimodal imaging revealed circuit-wide white and gray matter degenerative processes in several key brain regions affected in HD. Taken together, we have developed a novel macaque model of HD that may be used to develop disease biomarkers and screen promising therapeutics.

    1. Neuroscience
    Ariane C Boehm, Anja B Friedrich ... Ilona C Grunwald Kadow
    Research Article Updated

    Motherhood induces a drastic, sometimes long-lasting, change in internal state and behavior in many female animals. How a change in reproductive state or the discrete event of mating modulates specific female behaviors is still incompletely understood. Using calcium imaging of the whole brain of Drosophila females, we find that mating does not induce a global change in brain activity. Instead, mating modulates the pheromone response of dopaminergic neurons innervating the fly’s learning and memory center, the mushroom body (MB). Using the mating-induced increased attraction to the odor of important nutrients, polyamines, we show that disruption of the female fly’s ability to smell, for instance the pheromone cVA, during mating leads to a reduction in polyamine preference for days later indicating that the odor environment at mating lastingly influences female perception and choice behavior. Moreover, dopaminergic neurons including innervation of the β’1 compartment are sufficient to induce the lasting behavioral increase in polyamine preference. We further show that MB output neurons (MBON) of the β’1 compartment are activated by pheromone odor and their activity during mating bidirectionally modulates preference behavior in mated and virgin females. Their activity is not required, however, for the expression of polyamine attraction. Instead, inhibition of another type of MBON innervating the β’2 compartment enables expression of high odor attraction. In addition, the response of a lateral horn (LH) neuron, AD1b2, which output is required for the expression of polyamine attraction, shows a modulated polyamine response after mating. Taken together, our data in the fly suggests that mating-related sensory experience regulates female odor perception and expression of choice behavior through a dopamine-gated learning circuit.