Should we pay attention to eye movements? The impact of bilateral eye movements on behavioral and neural responses during the Attention Network Test

Jessica I Fleck, Lisa Payne, Carolyne Halko, Morgan Purcell
Brain and Cognition 2019 March 14, 132: 56-71
Bilateral eye movements (EMs) have been associated with enhancements in episodic memory and creativity. We explored the influence of EMs on behavior and event related potential (ERP) responses during the Attention Network Test (ANT). Participants completed ANT trials after bilateral EMs or a center-fixation control manipulation. We examined condition (EM, control) and handedness (consistent, inconsistent) differences for overall task performance, as well as alerting, orienting, and executive attention networks. Behaviorally, there was a trend for inconsistent-handed participants to display faster RTs across cue types, and greater accuracy for no cue, double, and center cue trials when compared to consistent handers, yet consistent handers garnered greater improvements in behavior following altering and orienting cues than inconsistent handers. Although there were no behavioral differences between EM and control conditions, target-locked N100 and P200 ERPs were weaker in the EM than control condition for all cue types, except spatial cues for which there were no differences between groups. Because stronger N100 and P200 responses have been linked to increased selective attention, we speculate that ERP differences between EM and control conditions, in the absence of behavioral differences, may indicate that participants exposed to EMs required less selective attention to successfully complete the task.

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