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One of the most important factors affecting the time taken to respond to a visual stimulus is contrast, and studies of reaction time can provide precise, quantitative information about the underlying signal processing. In this study we measured both saccadic and manual reaction times to step increments in target contrast. Our results over a range of initial contrasts are consistent with a simple model consisting of a noisy logarithmic transducer followed by a rise-to-threshold accumulator. A systematic comparison with previous contrast-processing models also shows that the commonly used method of linear regression may not be a particularly sensitive tool in deciding between them. We found similar parameters for the contrast processor in both saccadic and manual reaction times, as might be expected if a common target detection stage precedes each type of reaction. © 2006 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2006 The Physiological Society.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Physiology

Publication Date





741 - 751