Covert tracking: A combined ERP and fixational eye movement study

Alexis D J Makin, Ellen Poliakoff, Rochelle Ackerley, Wael El-Deredy

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    Attention can be directed to particular spatial locations, or to objects that appear at anticipated points in time. While most work has focused on spatial or temporal attention in isolation, we investigated covert tracking of smoothly moving objects, which requires continuous coordination of both. We tested two propositions about the neural and cognitive basis of this operation: first that covert tracking is a right hemisphere function, and second that pre-motor components of the oculomotor system are responsible for driving covert spatial attention during tracking. We simultaneously recorded event related potentials (ERPs) and eye position while participants covertly tracked dots that moved leftward or rightward at 12 or 20°/s. ERPs were sensitive to the direction of target motion. Topographic development in the leftward motion was a mirror image of the rightward motion, suggesting that both hemispheres contribute equally to covert tracking. Small shifts in eye position were also lateralized according to the direction of target motion, implying covert activation of the oculomotor system. The data addresses two outstanding questions about the nature of visuospatial tracking. First, covert tracking is reliant upon a symmetrical frontoparietal attentional system, rather than being right lateralized. Second, this same system controls both pursuit eye movements and covert tracking. © 2012 Makin et al.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere38479
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2012


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