Microsaccades transiently lateralise EEG alpha activity.
Liu B., Nobre AC., van Ede F.
The lateralisation of 8-12 Hz alpha activity is a canonical signature of human spatial cognition that is typically studied under strict fixation requirements. Yet, even during attempted fixation, the brain produces small involuntary eye movements known as microsaccades. Here we report how spontaneous microsaccades - made in the absence of incentives to look elsewhere - can themselves drive transient lateralisation of EEG alpha power according to microsaccade direction. This transient lateralisation of posterior alpha power occurs similarly following start and return microsaccades and is, at least for start microsaccades, driven by increased alpha power ipsilateral to microsaccade direction. This reveals new links between spontaneous microsaccades and human electrophysiological brain activity. It highlights how microsaccades are an important factor to consider in studies relating alpha activity - including spontaneous fluctuations in alpha activity - to spatial cognition, such as studies on visual attention, anticipation, and working memory.