Prefrontal attentional saccades explore space rhythmically

Corentin Gaillard, Sameh Ben Hadj Hassen, Fabio Di Bello, Yann Bihan‐Poudec, Rufin VanRullen, Suliann Ben Hamed

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Jul 09, 2019
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Received Date: 21st June 19

Recent studies suggest that attention samples space rhythmically through oscillatory interactions in the frontoparietal network. However, the precise mechanism through which the prefrontal cortex, at the source of attention control signals, organizes this rhythmic exploration of space remains unknown. We show that, when decoded at a high spatial (0.1°) and temporal resolution (50ms), the prefrontal covert attentional spotlight, aka the mind’s eye, continuously explores space at an alpha 7-12 Hz rhythm. When sensory events are presented at a specific optimal phase (resp. anti-phase) with respect to this rhythm, sensory encoding and behavioral report are accurate (resp. poor). We propose that this rhythmic prefrontal attentional spotlight dynamics corresponds to a continuous overt exploration of space via alpha-clocked attentional saccades. These attentional saccades are highly flexible, their pattern of space exploration depending both on within-trial and across-task contingencies. These results are discussed in the context of exploration and exploitation strategies and prefrontal top-down attentional control.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

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