Neural correlates of eye movements during naturalistic viewing
Jessica Robin1, Bradley R. Buchsbaum1,2, Rosanna K. Olsen1,2; 1Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest, 2University of Toronto
Eye movements provide a sensitive measure of attention to visual stimuli and exploratory behaviour. Recent research has highlighted a link between increased viewing, hippocampal activity, and memory formation, suggesting that the hippocampus’s role in forming lasting memory representations may be positively related to visual sampling. It is not known, however, how neural activity relates to eye movement measures during the viewing of naturalistic, dynamic stimuli. Behavioural studies have demonstrated that viewing patterns differ measurably between static and dynamic images, so it is important to determine how neural activity relates to eye movements in more naturalistic settings. In this study, we recorded eye movements while participants viewed short videos of varied content while undergoing fMRI scanning. We found increased neural activity in the visual cortex, and decreased medial prefrontal activity, when participants made more fixations to the videos. Increased spatial variability of the eye movements was associated with widespread increased activity throughout the visual cortex and dorsal and ventral visual processing streams. This study provides a novel method for examining the neural correlates of eye movements in a naturalistic setting, and suggests that eye movement variability is associated with neural activation throughout the visual system.
Topic Area: ATTENTION: Other