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Hélène Devillez, Nathalie Guyader, Anne Guérin-Dugué; An eye fixation–related potentials analysis of the P300 potential for fixations onto a target object when exploring natural scenes. Journal of Vision 2015;15(13):20. doi: 10.1167/15.13.20.
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The P300 event-related potential has been extensively studied in electroencephalography with classical paradigms that force observers to not move their eyes. This potential is classically used to infer whether a target or a task-relevant stimulus was presented. Few researches have studied this potential through more ecological paradigms where observers were able to move their eyes. In this study, we examined with an ecological paradigm and an adapted methodology the P300 potential using a visual search task that involves eye movements to actively explore natural scenes and during which eye movements and electroencephalographic activity were coregistered. Averaging the electroencephalography signal time-locked to fixation onsets, a P300 potential was observed for fixations onto the target object but not for other fixations recorded for the same visual search or for fixations recorded during the free viewing without any task. Our approach consists of using control experimental conditions with similar eye movements to ensure that the P300 potential was attributable to the fact that the observer gazed at the target rather than to other factors such as eye movement pattern (the size of the previous saccade) or the “overlap issue” between the potentials elicited by two successive fixations. We also proposed to model the time overlap issue of the potentials elicited by consecutive fixations with various durations. Our results show that the P300 potential can be studied in ecological situations without any constraint on the type of visual exploration, with some precautions in the interpretation of results due to the overlap issue.
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