The remote distractor effect is a robust finding whereby a saccade to a lateralised visual target is delayed by the simultaneous, or near simultaneous, onset of a distractor in the opposite hemifield. Saccadic inhibition is a more recently discovered phenomenon whereby a transient change to the scene during a visual task induces a depression in saccadic frequency beginning within 70 ms, and maximal around 90-100 ms. We assessed whether saccadic inhibition is responsible for the increase in saccadic latency induced by remote distractors. Participants performed a simple saccadic task in which the delay between target and distractor was varied between 0, 25, 50, 100 and 150 ms. Examination of the distributions of saccadic latencies showed that each distractor produced a discrete dip in saccadic frequency, time-locked to distractor onset, conforming closely to the character of saccadic inhibition. We conclude that saccadic inhibition underlies the remote distractor effect.
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