Enhanced Neural Processing by Covert Attention only during Microsaccades Directed toward the Attended Stimulus

Eric Lowet, Bruno Gomes, Karthik Srinivasan, Huihui Zhou, Robert John Schafer, Robert Desimone. Neuron, Jun 2018.


Attention can be “covertly” directed without eye movements; yet, even during fixation, there are continuous microsaccades (MSs). In areas V4 and IT of macaques, we found that firing rates and stimulus representations were enhanced by attention but only following a MS toward the attended stimulus. The onset of neural attentional modulations was tightly coupled to the MS onset. The results reveal a major link between the effects of covert attention on cortical visual processing and the overt…