On the link between saccadic adaptation and visuospatial attention

Abstract : Attention and Saccadic Adaptation (SA) are critical components of visual perception, the former enhancing sensory processing of selected objects, the latter maintaining the eye movements accuracy towards them. Also, a similar dichotomy could be applied to both: voluntary saccades and endogenous attentional shifts follow internal goals while reactive saccades and exogenous shifts are elicited by sudden changes in the environment. Further, their neural substrates partially overlap and they impact each other behaviorally. This PhD work investigates the hypothesis of a functional coupling linking attention and SA in healthy humans. Our experimental contributions all rely on the measurement of attentional performances before and after an exposure to SA (or control). In the first study, we recorded brain magnetic fields to investigate neurophysiological bases of the reactive/exogenous coupling. In the second study, we compared exogenous orienting measured in a Posner-like paradigm before and after reactive SA. Finally, using the same design, the third experiment investigated the voluntary/endogenous modality. We found that SA increased gamma band activity and boosted the orienting of spatial attention. We thus propose that this functional coupling relies on neuronal populations co-activated by both oculomotor plasticity and attention in the Posterior Parietal Cortex (PPC). The initial activation would emerge from a dual effect of the cerebellum inhibiting the left PPC and activating the right PPC. This effect would increase the right hemispheric dominance and the leftward attentional bias. This work opens new perspectives for the rehabilitation of visuoattentional deficits
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Judith Nicolas. On the link between saccadic adaptation and visuospatial attention. Neuroscience. Université de Lyon, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019LYSE1024⟩. ⟨tel-02158138⟩

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