The concerted action of saccades and fixational eye movements are crucial for seeing stationary objects in the visual world. We studied how these eye movements contribute to retinal coding of visual information using the archer fish as a model system. We quantified the animal's ability to distinguish among objects of different sizes and measured its eye movements. We recorded from populations of retinal ganglion cells with a multielectrode array, while presenting visual stimuli matched to the behavioral task. We found that the beginning of fixation, namely the time immediately after the saccade, provided the most visual information about object size, with fixational eye movements, which consist of tremor and drift in the archer fish, yielding only a minor contribution. A simple decoder that combined information from ≤15 ganglion cells could account for the behavior. Our results support the view that saccades impose not just difficulties for the visual system, but also an opportunity for the retina to encode high quality "snapshots" of the environment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes