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Refixation control in free viewing: a specialized mechanism divulged by eye-movement-related brain activity

  • Nikolaev, Andrey R; 84223;
  • Meghanathan, Radha Nila; 92919;
  • van Leeuwen, Cees; 77138;
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2018
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In free viewing, the eyes return to previously visited locations rather frequently, even though the attentional and memory-related processes controlling eye-movement show a strong antirefixation bias. To overcome this bias, a special refixation triggering mechanism may have to be recruited. We probed the neural evidence for such a mechanism by combining eye tracking with EEG recording. A distinctive signal associated with refixation planning was observed in the EEG during the presaccadic interval: the presaccadic potential was reduced in amplitude before a refixation compared with normal fixations. The result offers direct evidence for a special refixation mechanism that operates in the saccade planning stage of eye movement control. Once the eyes have landed on the revisited location, acquisition of visual information proceeds indistinguishably from ordinary fixations. NEW & NOTEWORTHY A substantial proportion of eye fixations in human natural viewing behavior are revisits of recently visited locations, i.e., refixations. Our recently developed methods enabled us to study refixations in a free viewing visual search task, using combined eye movement and EEG recording. We identified in the EEG a distinctive refixation-related signal, signifying a control mechanism specific to refixations as opposed to ordinary eye fixations. / status: published

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