September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
The N2pc Component Does Not Always Precede Eye Movements
Author Affiliations
  • Travis N. Talcott
    Binghamton University, SUNY
  • Nicholas Gaspelin
    Binghamton University, SUNY
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 2123. doi:
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      Travis N. Talcott, Nicholas Gaspelin; The N2pc Component Does Not Always Precede Eye Movements. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2123.

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

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Typically, researchers distinguish between two mechanisms of selective attention in vision: covert attention and overt eye movements. A common technique to study covert attention has come from the N2pc ERP component. Although it is commonly assumed that shifts of covert attention automatically precede eye movements, few studies have directly investigated whether the N2pc component occurs before eye movements. In the current study, participants performed a simple visual search task. Unlike previous studies of the N2pc component, eye movements were allowed and were measured using an eye tracker. At analysis, the EEG data were timelocked to the onset of the first saccade and we assessed whether the first saccade was preceded by an N2pc component. In conditions that allowed participants to freely generate eye movements in service of search, we found no evidence of an N2pc component before the first saccade. In conditions where shifts of covert attention were required before an eye movement, however, we observed a robust N2pc component before the first saccade. Altogether, the current findings suggest that the N2pc component does not always precede overt eye movements during visual search.


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