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Psychologisches Institut Methoden der Plastizitätsforschung

New publication by Tzvetan Popov et al. in bioRxiv: «Saccades are locked to the phase of alpha oscillations during natural reading»

We saccade three to five times per second when reading. However, little is known about the neuronal mechanisms coordinating the oculomotor and visual system during such rapid processing. Here we ask if brain oscillations play a role in the temporal coordination of the visuomotor integration. We simultaneously acquired MEG and eye-tracking data while participants read sentences silently. Every sentence was embedded with target words of either high or low lexical frequency. Our key finding demonstrated that saccade onsets were locked to the phase of alpha oscillations (8~13 Hz); in particular, for saccades towards low-frequency words. Source modelling demonstrated that the alpha oscillations to which the saccades were locked, were generated in the right-associative visual cortex (BA 19). Our findings suggest that the alpha oscillations serve to time the processing between the oculomotor and visual systems during natural reading and that this coordination becomes more pronounced for demanding words.


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