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PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e48761. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048761. Epub 2012 Nov 7.

The fixation and saccade P3.

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Vision Science Graduate Program, University of California, Berkeley, California, United States of America.


Although most instances of object recognition during natural viewing occur in the presence of saccades, the neural correlates of objection recognition have almost exclusively been examined during fixation. Recent studies have indicated that there are post-saccadic modulations of neural activity immediately following eye movement landing; however, whether post-saccadic modulations affect relatively late occurring cognitive components such as the P3 has not been explored. The P3 as conventionally measured at fixation is commonly used in brain computer interfaces, hence characterizing the post-saccadic P3 could aid in the development of improved brain computer interfaces that allow for eye movements. In this study, the P3 observed after saccadic landing was compared to the P3 measured at fixation. No significant differences in P3 start time, temporal persistence, or amplitude were found between fixation and saccade trials. Importantly, sensory neural responses canceled in the target minus distracter comparisons used to identify the P3. Our results indicate that relatively late occurring cognitive neural components such as the P3 are likely less sensitive to post saccadic modulations than sensory neural components and other neural activity occurring shortly after eye movement landing. Furthermore, due to the similarity of the fixation and saccade P3, we conclude that the P3 following saccadic landing could possibly be used as a viable signal in brain computer interfaces allowing for eye movements.

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