ERP correlates of shared control mechanisms involved in saccade preparation and in covert attention
Eimer, M., van Velzen, J., Gherri, E. and Press, C. (2007) ERP correlates of shared control mechanisms involved in saccade preparation and in covert attention. Brain Research, 1135. pp. 154-166. ISSN 0006-8993
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2006.12.007
We investigated whether attention shifts and eye movement preparation are mediated by shared control mechanisms, as claimed by the premotor theory of attention. ERPs were recorded in three tasks where directional cues presented at the beginning of each trial instructed participants to direct their attention to the cued side without eye movements (Covert task), to prepare an eye movement in the cued direction without attention shifts (Saccade task) or both (Combined task). A peripheral visual Go/Nogo stimulus that was presented 800 ms after cue onset signalled whether responses had to be executed or withheld. Lateralised ERP components triggered during the cue–target interval, which are assumed to reflect preparatory control mechanisms that mediate attentional orienting, were very similar across tasks. They were also present in the Saccade task, which was designed to discourage any concomitant covert attention shifts. These results support the hypothesis that saccade preparation and attentional orienting are implemented by common control structures. There were however systematic differences in the impact of eye movement programming and covert attention on ERPs triggered in response to visual stimuli at cued versus uncued locations. It is concluded that, although the preparatory processes underlying saccade programming and covert attentional orienting may be based on common mechanisms, they nevertheless differ in their spatially specific effects on visual information processing.