Luminance contrast in the background makes flashes harder to detect during saccades
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To explore a visual scene we make many fast eye movements (saccades) every second. During those saccades the image of the world shifts rapidly across our retina. These shifts are normally not detected, because perception is suppressed during saccades. In this paper we study the origin of this saccadic suppression by examining the influence of luminance borders in the background on the perception of flashes presented near the time of saccades in a normally illuminated room. We used different types of backgrounds: either with isoluminant red and green areas or with black and white areas. We found that the ability to perceive flashes that were presented during saccades was suppressed when there were luminance borders in the background, but not when there were isoluminant color borders in the background. Thus, masking by moving luminance borders plays an important role in saccadic suppression. The perceived positions of detected flashes were only influenced by the borders between the areas in the background when the flashes were presented before or after the saccades. Moreover, the influence did not depend on the kind of contrast forming the border. Thus, the masking effect of moving luminance borders does not appear to play an important role in the mislocalization of flashes that are presented near the time of saccades.