Decreased visual attention further from the perceived direction of gaze for equidistant retinal targets.
The oculomotor and spatial attention systems are interconnected. Whereas a link between motor commands and spatial shifts in visual attention is demonstrated, it is still unknown whether the recently discovered proprioceptive signal in somatosensory cortex impacts on visual attention, too. This study investigated whether visual targets near the perceived direction of gaze are detected more accurately than targets further away, despite the equal eccentricity of their retinal projections. We dissociated real and perceived eye position using left somatosensory repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), which decreases cortical processing of eye muscle proprioceptive inflow and produces an underestimation of the rotation of the right eye. Participants detected near-threshold visual targets presented in the left or right visual hemifield at equal distance from fixation. We have previously shown that when the right eye is rotated to the left of the parasagittal plane, TMS produces an underestimation of this rotation, shifting perceived eye position to the right. Here we found that, in this condition, TMS also decreased target detection in the left visual hemifield and increased it in the right. This effect depended on the direction of rotation of the right eye. When the right eye was rotated rightward and TMS, we assume, shifted perceived gaze direction in opposite direction, leftward, visual accuracy decreased now in the right hemifield. We suggest that the proprioceptive eye position signal modulates the spatial distribution of visual processing resources, producing "pseudo-neglect" for objects located far relative to near the perceived direction of gaze.