Eye movements explain decodability during perception and cued attention in MEG


Eye movements are an integral part of human perception, but can induce artifacts in many magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG) studies. For this reason, investigators try to minimize eye movements and remove these artifacts from their data using different techniques. When these artifacts are not purely random, but consistent regarding certain stimuli or conditions, the possibility arises that eye movements are actually inducing effects in the MEG signal. It remains unclear how much of an influence eye movements can have on observed effects in MEG, since most MEG studies lack a control analysis to verify whether an effect found in the MEG signal is induced by eye movements. Here, we find that we can decode stimulus location from eye movements in two different stages of a working memory match-to-sample task that encompass different areas of research typically done with MEG. This means that the observed MEG effect might be (partly) due to eye movements instead of any true neural correlate. We suggest how to check for eye movement effects in the data and make suggestions on how to minimize eye movement artifacts from occurring in the first place.