Dynamics of the straight-ahead preference in human visual cortex. Article - Janvier 2020

Olena Bogdanova, Volodymyr Bogdanov, Jean-Baptiste Durand, Yves Trotter, Benoit Cottereau

Olena Bogdanova, Volodymyr Bogdanov, Jean-Baptiste Durand, Yves Trotter, Benoit Cottereau, « Dynamics of the straight-ahead preference in human visual cortex.  », Brain Structure and Function, janvier 2020, pp. 173-186. ISSN 1863-2653

Abstract

The objects located straight-ahead of the body are preferentially processed by the visual system. They are more rapidly detected and evoke stronger BOLD responses in early visual areas than elements that are retinotopically identical but located at eccentric spatial positions. To characterize the dynamics of the underlying neural mechanisms, we recorded in 29 subjects the EEG responses to peripheral targets differing solely by their locations with respect to the body. Straight-ahead stimuli led to stronger responses than eccentric stimuli for several components whose latencies ranged between 70 and 350 ms after stimulus onset. The earliest effects were found at 70 ms for a component that originates from occipital areas, the contralateral P1. To determine whether the straight-ahead direction affects primary visual cortex responses, we performed an additional experiment (n = 29) specifically designed to generate two robust components, the C1 and C2, whose cortical origins are constrained within areas V1, V2 and V3. Our analyses confirmed all the results of the first experiment and also revealed that the C2 amplitude between 130 and 160 ms after stimulus onset was significantly stronger for straight-ahead stimuli. A frequency analysis of the pre-stimulus baseline revealed that gaze-driven alterations in the visual hemi-field containing the straight-ahead direction were associated with a decrease in alpha power in the contralateral hemisphere, suggesting the implication of specific neural modulations before stimulus onset. Altogether, our EEG data demonstrate that preferential responses to the straight-ahead direction can be detected in the visual cortex as early as about 70 ms after stimulus onset.

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