Poster F9, Tuesday, March 27, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Combining eye-tracking and EEG to measure attention to salient and emotional stimuli
Louisa Kulke1,2,3, Janette Atkinson3,4, Oliver Braddick4, Annekathrin Schacht1,2; 1University of Göttingen, 2Leibniz-ScienceCampus Primate Cognition, 3University College London, 4University of Oxford
In everyday life, salient or emotionally relevant stimuli often catch our attention and elicit saccades. However, most previous neuroscientific studies instructed subjects to covertly shift attention, thereby suppressing natural saccades. This set of studies used a novel method combining eye-tracking and EEG to measure overt shifts of attention. Study 1 compared neural mechanisms of covert and overt attention shifts. Twenty-four participants performed an attention shift task in which they either manually responded to peripheral targets while maintaining fixation (covert) or made a saccade towards them (overt). EEG and eye-tracking were combined to simultaneously measure neural responses and saccades. Event-related potentials were similar for overt and covert shifts of attention; however, an early fronto-central component differed between condition, potentially reflecting saccade suppression during covert attention shifts. This suggests that natural attention shifts may differ from covert shifts often recorded in labs. Study 2 manipulated disengagement of attention by comparing overt attention shifts to a salient peripheral target, both with and without a competing central target. Results from 41 participants show that saccade latencies towards targets are significantly shorter when no competing stimulus is present. The same latency pattern occurred for early occipital responses with shorter latencies for responses requiring no disengagement. Study 3 additionally introduced emotional faces as stimuli to investigate effects of valence on attention shift latencies. The results provide insights to the mechanisms of attention shifts to salient and emotional stimuli in a natural context, providing information on the neural mechanisms underlying the attentional draw towards these stimuli.
Topic Area: ATTENTION: Spatial