Eye movement preparation causes spatially-specific modulation of auditory processing: new evidence from event-related brain potentials

Elena Gherri, Jon Driver, Martin Eimer
Brain Research 2008 August 11, 1224: 88-101
To investigate whether saccade preparation can modulate processing of auditory stimuli in a spatially-specific fashion, ERPs were recorded for a Saccade task, in which the direction of a prepared saccade was cued, prior to an imperative auditory stimulus indicating whether to execute or withhold that saccade. For comparison, we also ran a conventional Covert Attention task, where the same cue now indicated the direction for a covert endogenous attentional shift prior to an auditory target-nontarget discrimination. Lateralised components previously observed during cued shifts of attention (ADAN, LDAP) did not differ significantly across tasks, indicating commonalities between auditory spatial attention and oculomotor control. Moreover, in both tasks, spatially-specific modulation of auditory processing was subsequently found, with enhanced negativity for lateral auditory nontarget stimuli at cued versus uncued locations. This modulation started earlier and was more pronounced for the Covert Attention task, but was also reliably present in the Saccade task, demonstrating that the effects of covert saccade preparation on auditory processing can be similar to effects of endogenous covert attentional orienting, albeit smaller. These findings provide new evidence for similarities but also some differences between oculomotor preparation and shifts of endogenous spatial attention. They also show that saccade preparation can affect not just vision, but also sensory processing of auditory events.

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