Temporal order judgments are disrupted more by reflexive than by voluntary saccades Academic Article uri icon


  • We do not always perceive the sequence of events as they actually unfold. For example, when two events occur before a rapid eye movement (saccade), the interval between them is often perceived as shorter than it really is and the order of those events can be sometimes reversed (Morrone MC, Ross J, Burr DC. Nat Neurosci 8: 950–954, 2005). In the present article we show that these misperceptions of the temporal order of events critically depend on whether the saccade is reflexive or voluntary. In the first experiment, participants judged the temporal order of two visual stimuli that were presented one after the other just before a reflexive or voluntary saccadic eye movement. In the reflexive saccade condition, participants moved their eyes to a target that suddenly appeared. In the voluntary saccade condition, participants moved their eyes to a target that was present already. Similarly to the above-cited study, we found that the temporal order of events was often misjudged just before a reflexive saccade to a suddenly appearing target. However, when people made a voluntary saccade to a target that was already present, there was a significant reduction in the probability of misjudging the temporal order of the same events. In the second experiment, the reduction was seen in a memory-delay task. It is likely that the nature of the motor command and its origin determine how time is perceived during the moments preceding the motor act.

publication date

  • 2014