October 2020
Volume 20, Issue 11
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   October 2020
Multiple reference frames for oculomotor contributions to visual working memory in an immersive and unconstrained virtual reality environment
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Dejan Draschkow
    Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity, Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, University of Oxford
  • Anna C. Nobre
    Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity, Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, University of Oxford
  • Freek van Ede
    Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity, Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, University of Oxford
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  This work was supported by The Wellcome Trust 104571/Z/14/Z (to A.C.N.). The Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging is supported by core funding from the Wellcome Trust (203130/Z/16/Z).
Journal of Vision October 2020, Vol.20, 526. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.526
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      Dejan Draschkow, Anna C. Nobre, Freek van Ede; Multiple reference frames for oculomotor contributions to visual working memory in an immersive and unconstrained virtual reality environment. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):526. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.526.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

When we direct covert attention in external visual space, microsaccades tend to become biased in the corresponding direction. We recently showed that this “gaze bias” persists even when directing attention to items within the internal space of visual working memory. Here we investigated this bias in a virtual reality (VR) setting to address two key outstanding questions. First, this tight coupling between the brain’s oculomotor system and attentional focusing is usually investigated in laboratory tasks with restrained head movements. Using VR, which allows participants to freely move their head, we demonstrate that focusing internal attention to locations in memorized space is still associated with a gaze bias in the same direction. This reveals that the involvement of the oculomotor system in internally directed attentional focus persists under more ecologically valid conditions without head movement restriction. Second, directly capitalizing on this observation, we were able to investigate how, following locomotion (again enabled by the VR setting), we maintain and select memorized visual shape information through memorized spatial locations. This revealed oculomotor contributions to both maintenance and selection of items in working memory, which relied on both the original and the updated locations of these items in 3D space. This opens exciting new avenues for investigating how we maintain and select items in working memory in ecological and immersive 360-degree environments.

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