We constantly move our eyes to sample visual information. In order to make the sampling efficient, these eye movements need to be coordinated with the intrinsic brain dynamics that constrain visual computations. Using intracranial EEG and MEG recordings, our new paper in PLOS Biology shows that eye movements are locked to the phase of alpha oscillations, and that this coordination supports mnemonic encoding of visual scenes.

In everyday life, we constantly move our eyes to sample visual information. In order to make the sampling efficient, these eye movements need to be coordinated with the intrinsic brain dynamics that constrain visual computations. The present study provides novel evidence for how this coordination is achieved at the neuronal level, from 2 independent data sets: direct brain recordings in epileptic patients and noninvasive magnetoencephalography recordings in healthy participants. Both studies showed that eye movements are locked to the phase of alpha oscillations—synchronous and coherent neuronal electrical activity at 7–14 Hz—just prior to a saccade, i.e., a rapid eye movement that abruptly changes the point of fixation. Importantly, this coordination is predictive of successful memory encoding.

Research published in Plos Biology

Research funded by ERCNWO, Horizon 2020The Egil and Pauline Braathen and Fred Kavli Centre for Cortical MicrocircuitsNORBRAIN and the Centre of Excellence scheme of the Research Council of Norway – Centre for Biology of Memory and Centre for Neural Computation