Effect of fixation tasks on multifocal visual evoked potentials

Alessandra Martins*, Alexander Klistorner, Stuart Graham, Frank Billson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: This study investigated the effects of cognitive influence on the multifocal visual evoked potential (mVEP) at different levels of eccentricity. Three different foveal fixation conditions were utilized involving varying levels of task complexity. A more complex visual fixation task has been known to suppress peripheral signals in subjective testing. Methods: Twenty normal subjects had monocular mVEPs recorded using the AccuMap objective perimeter. This allowed simultaneous stimulation of 58 segments of the visual field to an eccentricity of 24°. The mVEP was recorded using three different fixation conditions in random order. During task 1 the subject passively viewed the central fixation area. For task 2 alternating numbers were displayed within the fixation area; the subject on viewing the number '3' in the central fixation area indicated recognition by pressing a button. Throughout task 3, numbers were displayed as in task 2. The subject had the cognitive task of summating all the numbers. Results: Analysis revealed that the increased attention and concentration demanded by tasks 2 and 3 in comparison with task 1 resulted in significantly enhanced central amplitudes of 9.41% (Mann-Whitney P = 0.0002) and 13.45% (P = 0.0002), respectively. These amplitudes became reduced in the periphery and approached those of task 1, resulting in no significant difference between the three tasks. Latencies demonstrated no significant difference between each task nor at any eccentricity (P > 0.05). As the complexity of each task increased the amount of alpha rhythm was significantly reduced. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that task 1 required a minimal demand of cognition and was associated with the greatest amount of alpha rhythm. It was also the most difficult to perform because of loss of interest. The other two tasks required a greater demand of higher order cognitive skills resulting in significantly enhanced amplitudes centrally and the attenuation of alpha rhythm. Therefore, amplitudes are increased around the area of attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-504
Number of pages6
JournalClinical and Experimental Ophthalmology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes

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