Cerebral Hemodynamics During Scene Viewing: Hemispheric Lateralization Predicts Temporal Gaze Behavior Associated With Distinct Modes of Visual Processing

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Systematic patterns of eye movements during scene perception suggest a functional distinction between 2 viewing modes: an ambient mode (characterized by short fixations and large saccades) thought to reflect dorsal activity involved with spatial analysis, and a focal mode (characterized by long fixations and small saccades) thought to reflect ventral activity involved with object analysis. Little neuroscientific evidence exists supporting this claim. Here, functional transcranial Doppler ultrasound (fTCD) was used to investigate whether these modes show hemispheric specialization. Participants viewed scenes for 20 s under instructions to search or memorize. Overall, early viewing was right lateralized, whereas later viewing was left lateralized. This right-to-left shift interacted with viewing task (more pronounced in the memory task). Importantly, changes in lateralization correlated with changes in eye movements. This is the first demonstration of right hemisphere bias for eye movements servicing spatial analysis and left hemisphere bias for eye movements servicing object analysis.

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