Electrophysiological recordings in humans reveal reduced location-specific attentional-shift activity prior to recentering saccades.
Being able to effectively explore the visual world is of fundamental importance, and it has been suggested that the straight-ahead gaze position within the egocentric reference frame ("primary position") might play a special role in this context. In the present study we employed human electroencephalography (EEG) to examine neural activity related to the spatial guidance of saccadic eye movements. Moreover, we sought to investigate whether such activity would be modulated by the spatial relation of saccade direction to the primary gaze position (recentering saccades). Participants executed endogenously cued saccades between five equidistant locations along the horizontal meridian. This design allowed for the comparison of isoamplitude saccades from the same starting position that were oriented either toward the primary position (centripetal) or further away from it (centrifugal). By back-averaging time-locked to the saccade onset on each trial, we identified a parietally distributed, negative-polarity EEG deflection contralateral to the direction of the upcoming saccade. Importantly, this contralateral presaccadic negativity, which appeared to reflect the location-specific attentional guidance of the eye movement, was attenuated for recentering saccades relative to isoamplitude centrifugal saccades. This differential electrophysiological signature was paralleled by faster saccadic reaction times and was substantially more apparent when time-locking the data to the onset of the saccade rather than to the onset of the cue, suggesting a tight temporal association with saccade initiation. The diminished level of this presaccadic component for recentering saccades may reflect the preferential coding of the straight-ahead gaze position, in which both the eye-centered and head-centered reference frames are perfectly aligned and from which the visual world can be effectively explored.
Krebs, RM; Boehler, CN; Zhang, HH; Schoenfeld, MA; Woldorff, MG
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