Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
The possible impact upon human visual cortex from saccades to remembered target locations was investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). A specific location in the upper-right or upper-left visual quadrant served as the saccadic target. After a delay of 2400 msec, an auditory signal indicated whether to execute a saccade to that location (go trial) or to cancel the saccade and remain centrally fixated (no-go). Group fMRI analysis revealed activation specific to the remembered target location for executed saccades, in the contralateral lingual gyrus. No-go trials produced similar, albeit significantly reduced, effects. Individual retinotopic mapping confirmed that on go trials, quadrant-specific activations arose in those parts of ventral V1, V2, and V3 that coded the target location for the saccade, whereas on no-go trials, only the corresponding parts of V2 and V3 were significantly activated. These results indicate that a spatial–motor saccadic task (i.e., making an eye movement to a remembered location) is sufficient to activate retinotopic visual cortex spatially corresponding to the target location, and that this activation is also present (though reduced) when no saccade is executed. We discuss the implications of finding that saccades to remembered locations can affect early visual cortex, not just those structures conventionally associated with eye movements, in relation to recent ideas about attention, spatial working memory, and the notion that recently activated representations can be “refreshed” when needed.