Do We See Before We Look?

We investigated neural correlates of target detection in the electroencephalogram (EEG) during a free viewing search task and analyzed signals locked to saccadic events. Subjects performed a search task for multiple random scenes while we simultaneously recorded 64 channels of EEG and tracked subjects eye position. For each subject we identified target saccades (TS) and distractor saccades (DS). We sampled the sets of TS and DS saccades such that they were equalized/matched for saccade direction and duration, ensuring that no information in the saccade properties themselves was discriminating for their type. We aligned EEG to the saccade onset and used logistic regression (LR), in the space of the 64 electrodes, to identify activity discriminating a TS from a DS on a single-trial basis. We found significant discriminating activity in the EEG both before and after the saccade. We also saw substantial reduction in discriminating activity when the saccade was executed. We conclude that we can identify neural signatures of detection both before and after the saccade, indicating that subjects anticipate the target before the last saccade, which serves to foveate and confirm the target identity.

Accepted 29 April 2009
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