Difference in Visual Processing Assessed by Eye Vergence Movements

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Abstract

Orienting visual attention is closely linked to the oculomotor system. For example, a shift of attention is usually followed by a saccadic eye movement and can be revealed by micro saccades. Recently we reported a novel role of another type of eye movement, namely eye vergence, in orienting visual attention. Shifts in visuospatial attention are characterized by the response modulation to a selected target. However, unlike (micro-) saccades, eye vergence movements do not carry spatial information (except for depth) and are thus not specific to a particular visual location. To further understand the role of eye vergence in visual attention, we tested subjects with different perceptual styles. Perceptual style refers to the characteristic way individuals perceive environmental stimuli, and is characterized by a spatial difference (local vs. global) in perceptual processing. We tested field independent (local; FI) and field dependent (global; FD) observers in a cue/no-cue task and a matching task. We found that FI observers responded faster and had stronger modulation in eye vergence in both tasks than FD subjects. The results may suggest that eye vergence modulation may relate to the trade-off between the size of spatial region covered by attention and the processing efficiency of sensory information. Alternatively, vergence modulation may have a role in the switch in cortical state to prepare the visual system for new incoming sensory information. In conclusion, vergence eye movements may be added to the growing list of functions of fixational eye movements in visual perception. However, further studies are needed to elucidate its role. © 2013 Solé Puig et al.

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Solé Puig, M., Puigcerver, L., Aznar-Casanova, J. A., & Supèr, H. (2013). Difference in Visual Processing Assessed by Eye Vergence Movements. PLoS ONE, 8(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0072041

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