The relation between shifts of visual attention and saccade preparation was investigated by studying their electrophysiological correlates in human scalp-recorded electroencephalogram (EEG). Participants had to make saccades either to a saliently colored or to a gray circle, simultaneously presented in opposite visual hemifields, under different task instructions. EEG was measured within the short interval between stimulus onset and saccade, focusing on lateralized activity, contralateral either to the side of the relevant stimulus or to the direction of the saccade. Three components of lateralization were found: 1) activity contralateral to the relevant stimulus irrespective of saccade direction, peaking 250 ms after stimulus onset, largest above lateral parietal sites, 2) activity contralateral to the relevant stimulus if the stimulus was also the target of the saccade, largest 330-480 ms after stimulus onset, widespread over the scalp but with a focus again above lateral parietal sites, and 3) activity contralateral to saccade direction, beginning about 100 ms before the saccade, largest above mesial parietal sites, with some task-dependent fronto-central contribution. Because of their sensitivity to task variables, component 1 is interpreted as the shifting of attention to the relevant stimulus, component 2 is interpreted as reflecting the enhancement of the attentional shift if the relevant stimulus is also the saccade target, and component 3 is interpreted as the triggering signal for saccade execution. Thus human neurophysiological data provided evidence both for independent and interdependent processes of saccade preparation and shifts of visual attention.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)