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Nat Commun. 2018 Dec 18;9(1):5374. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07773-y.

Eye activity tracks task-relevant structures during speech and auditory sequence perception.

Jin P1, Zou J1, Zhou T1, Ding N2,3,4.

Author information

1
Key Laboratory for Biomedical Engineering of Ministry of Education, Interdisciplinary Institute of Neuroscience and Technology, Qiushi Academy for Advanced Studies, College of Biomedical Engineering and Instrument Sciences, Zhejiang University, 310027, Hangzhou, China.
2
Key Laboratory for Biomedical Engineering of Ministry of Education, Interdisciplinary Institute of Neuroscience and Technology, Qiushi Academy for Advanced Studies, College of Biomedical Engineering and Instrument Sciences, Zhejiang University, 310027, Hangzhou, China. ding_nai@zju.edu.cn.
3
State Key Laboratory of Industrial Control Technology, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 310027, China. ding_nai@zju.edu.cn.
4
Interdisciplinary Center for Social Sciences, Zhejiang University, 310027, Hangzhou, China. ding_nai@zju.edu.cn.

Abstract

The sensory and motor systems jointly contribute to complex behaviors, but whether motor systems are involved in high-order perceptual tasks such as speech and auditory comprehension remain debated. Here, we show that ocular muscle activity is synchronized to mentally constructed sentences during speech listening, in the absence of any sentence-related visual or prosodic cue. Ocular tracking of sentences is observed in the vertical electrooculogram (EOG), whether the eyes are open or closed, and in eye blinks measured by eyetracking. Critically, the phase of sentence-tracking ocular activity is strongly modulated by temporal attention, i.e., which word in a sentence is attended. Ocular activity also tracks high-level structures in non-linguistic auditory and visual sequences, and captures rapid fluctuations in temporal attention. Ocular tracking of non-visual rhythms possibly reflects global neural entrainment to task-relevant temporal structures across sensory and motor areas, which could serve to implement temporal attention and coordinate cortical networks.

PMID:
30560906
PMCID:
PMC6299078
DOI:
10.1038/s41467-018-07773-y
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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