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Title: Integrating neural and ocular attention reorienting signals in virtual reality

Objective.Reorienting is central to how humans direct attention to different stimuli in their environment. Previous studies typically employ well-controlled paradigms with limited eye and head movements to study the neural and physiological processes underlying attention reorienting. Here, we aim to better understand the relationship between gaze and attention reorienting using a naturalistic virtual reality (VR)-based target detection paradigm.Approach.Subjects were navigated through a city and instructed to count the number of targets that appeared on the street. Subjects performed the task in a fixed condition with no head movement and in a free condition where head movements were allowed. Electroencephalography (EEG), gaze and pupil data were collected. To investigate how neural and physiological reorienting signals are distributed across different gaze events, we used hierarchical discriminant component analysis (HDCA) to identify EEG and pupil-based discriminating components. Mixed-effects general linear models (GLM) were used to determine the correlation between these discriminating components and the different gaze events time. HDCA was also used to combine EEG, pupil and dwell time signals to classify reorienting events.Main results.In both EEG and pupil, dwell time contributes most significantly to the reorienting signals. However, when dwell times were orthogonalized against other gaze events, the distributions of the more » reorienting signals were different across the two modalities, with EEG reorienting signals leading that of the pupil reorienting signals. We also found that the hybrid classifier that integrates EEG, pupil and dwell time features detects the reorienting signals in both the fixed (AUC = 0.79) and the free (AUC = 0.77) condition.Significance.We show that the neural and ocular reorienting signals are distributed differently across gaze events when a subject is immersed in VR, but nevertheless can be captured and integrated to classify target vs. distractor objects to which the human subject orients.

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Journal of Neural Engineering
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Article No. 066052
IOP Publishing
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National Science Foundation
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