Fixation-related brain potentials during semantic integration of object-scene information
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Description: In vision science, a particularly controversial topic is whether and how quickly the semantic information about objects is available outside foveal vision. Here, we aimed at contributing to this debate by coregistering eye movements and EEG while participants viewed photographs of indoor scenes that contained a semantically consistent or inconsistent target object. Linear deconvolution modeling was used to analyze the ERPs evoked by scene onset as well as the fixation-related potentials (FRPs) elicited by the fixation on the target object (t) and by the preceding fixation (t − 1). Object–scene consistency did not influence the probability of immediate target fixation or the ERP evoked by scene onset, which suggests that object–scene semantics was not accessed immediately. However, during the subsequent scene exploration, inconsistent objects were prioritized over consistent objects in extrafoveal vision (i.e., looked at earlier) and were more effortful to process in foveal vision (i.e., looked at longer). In FRPs, we demonstrate a fixation-related N300/N400 effect, whereby inconsistent objects elicit a larger frontocentral negativity than consistent objects. In line with the behavioral findings, this effect was already seen in FRPs aligned to the pretarget fixation t − 1 and persisted throughout fixation t, indicating that the extraction of object semantics can already begin in extrafoveal vision. Taken together, the results emphasize the usefulness of combined EEG/eye movement recordings for understanding the mechanisms of object–scene integration during natural viewing