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Neurosci Res. 2013 Sep-Oct;77(1-2):50-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2013.08.002. Epub 2013 Aug 19.

Early event-related potentials indicate context-specific target processing for eye and hand motor systems.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, Oxford University, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QX England, United Kingdom; Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Unit, Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna, Liebiggasse 5, 1010 Vienna, Austria(1). Electronic address: claudia.wehrspaun@dpag.ox.ac.uk.


Concurrent eye and hand movements toward a common visual target require different motor programs based on identical visual input. We used event-related brain potentials (ERP) to determine if and when the processing of the visual target differs for the two motor systems. The N2, an index for target evaluation, was more negative for the target of a hand than of an eye movement in two experiments. A possible interpretation for this finding is different visual target processing. Targets for hand movements require a different weighting of visual information, for example concerning features such as surface structure which are important for hand but not for eye movements. In experiment 2, the early C1-component, which had an average maximum at 67 ms following target onset, was significantly more negative when subjects pointed at the stimuli. Traditionally, the C1 has been regarded as a sensory component, but recent studies have linked it to higher order processing, such as attention and expectations. Thus, the present data indicate that target processing for eye or hand movements is already context-specific during early visual information processing. We suggest that differences in a target's relevance for upcoming movements modify target processing as well as sensory expectations.

Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


Attention; C1-component; EEG; Eye–hand-coordination; N2-component; Sensory expectation

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