Saccadic distractor effects: The remote distractor effect (RDE) and saccadic inhibition (SI): A response to McIntosh and Buonocore (2014)

Robin Walker, Valerie Benson

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We (Walker & Benson, 2013) reported studies in which the spatial effects of distractors on the remote distractor effect (RDE) and saccadic inhibition (SI) were examined. Distractors remote from the target increased mean latency and the skew of the distractor-related distributions, without the presence of ‘dips’ that are regarded as the hallmark of SI. We further showed that early onset distractors had similar effects although these would not be consistent with existing estimates of the duration of SI (of around 60-70ms). McIntosh & Buonocore, (2014) report a simulation showing that skewed latency distributions can arise from the putative SI mechanism and they also highlighted a number of methodological considerations regarding the RDE and SI as measures of SACCADIC DISTRACTOR EFFECTS (SDE’s). Here we evaluate these claims and note that the measures of SI obtained by subtracting latency distributions (specifically the decrease in saccade frequency – or ‘dip duration’) are no more diagnostic of a single inhibitory process, or more sensitive indicators of it, than is median latency. Furthermore the evidence of inhibitory influences of small distractors presented close to the target is both unconvincing and incompatible with the explanations of both the RDE and SI. We conclude that SACCADIC DISTRACTOR EFFECTS may be a more inclusive term to encompass the different characteristics of behavioural effects of underlying saccade target selection.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number2
Early online date4 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2015


  • Remote distractor effect
  • saccadic inhibition
  • superior colliculus
  • occulomotor inhibition
  • saccadic distractor effects

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