Research Lecture Series Dr. Mark Harwood presents, “Acuity Vision as Reward for Eye Movements”

Please join Dr. Mark Harwood, East London University, for a presentation entitled “Acuity Vision as Reward for Eye Movements.” The lecture will take place on April 11, 2017 as part of the Research Lecture Series. All are welcome to attend. One hour of Mass CE will be awarded.

Please join us for a wine and cheese reception in Conference Room 1 following the lecture.

Abstract:  Vision is a highly active process. On average, we shift our gaze via saccadic eye movements twice as often as we beat our hearts. This key cognitive function serves high acuity vision, with saccades bringing our best foveal vision onto targets of interest. Saccade accuracy is, thus, naturally linked by its goal to visual acuity. Saccade velocity and reaction time have no necessary link to spatial acuity, but all three main saccade features of accuracy, velocity and reaction time are manipulated by reward and controlled by dopaminergic neurons in the basal ganglia. Understanding of these inter-relationships between saccade features and basal ganglia function is still limited, however. Here, I will first show how the reward of visual acuity may explain saccadic reaction times and choices. Second, I will show how manipulating visual reward rate increases saccade velocities in healthy adults, but not in Parkinson’s disease patients. Third, I will show that Parkinson patients have atypical adaptive maintenance of saccade accuracy. In sum, these data suggest stronger links between visual acuity, saccades and the dopaminergic reward system than previously supposed. Consideration of spatiotemporal acuity, and not just spatial acuity may be of key importance.