The journal PLOS ONE has recently published a study which provides new data around attention and visual perception. The article "A role of eye vergence in covert attention" is signed by led by Hans Supèr, ICREA researcher at the Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour (IR3C) of the University of Barcelona; Maria Solé Puig, J. Antonio Aznar Casanova and Laura Pérez Zapato, all of them researchers at the IR3C, have also participated in the study.
Even if the neural mechanism that produces visual attention is not clearly known, certain trends in perceptual and neural responses have been observed in the absence of eye movements. The study describes the relation between fixational eye movements which take part in fixation, so-named eye vergence, and covert attention. Visual stimuli modulate vergence movements (the angle of eye vergence) to catch attention. This illustrates the relation between eye vergence and bottom-up attention. In visual and auditory cue/no-cue paradigms, the angle of vergence is greater in the cue condition than in the no-cue condition. According to reseachers, this shows a top-down attention component.
Therefore, the study proves that there is a close link between covert attention and modulation in eye vergence during eye fixation. It suggests a basis for the use of eye vergence as a tool for measuring attention and may provide new insights into attention and perceptual disorders.