Face familiarity revealed by fixational eye movements and fixation-related potentials in free viewing

Oren Kadosh, Yoram Bonneh

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Event-related potentials (ERPs) and the oculomotor inhibition (OMI) in response to visual transients are known to be sensitive to stimulus properties, attention, and expectation. We have recently found that the OMI is also sensitive to face familiarity. In natural vision, stimulation of the visual cortex is generated primarily by saccades, and it has been recently suggested that fixation-related potentials (FRPs) share similar components with the ERPs. Here, we investigated whether FRPs and microsaccade inhibition (OMI) in free viewing are sensitive to face familiarity. Observers freely watched a slideshow of seven unfamiliar and one familiar facial images presented randomly for 4-s periods, with multiple images per identity. We measured the occipital fixation-related N1 relative to the P1 magnitude as well as the associated fixation-triggered OMI. We found that the average N1-P1 was significantly smaller and the OMI was shorter for the familiar face, compared with any of the seven unfamiliar faces. Moreover, the P1 was suppressed across saccades for the familiar but not for the unfamiliar faces. Our results highlight the sensitivity of the occipital FRPs to stimulus properties such as face familiarity and advance our understanding of the integration process across successive saccades in natural vision.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20178
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

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