Saccade-related neural communication in the human medial temporal lobe is modulated by the social relevance of stimuli

Humans predominantly explore their environment by moving their eyes. To optimally communicate and process visual information, neural activity needs to be coordinated with the execution of eye movements. We investigated the coordination between visual exploration and interareal neural communication by analyzing local field potentials and single neuron activity in patients with epilepsy. We demonstrated that during the free viewing of images, neural communication between the human amygdala and hippocampus is coordinated with the execution of eye movements. The strength and direction of neural communication and hippocampal saccade-related phase alignment were strongest for fixations that landed on human faces.

Our results argue that the state of the human medial temporal lobe network is selectively coordinated with motor behavior. Interareal neural communication was facilitated for social stimuli as indexed by the category of the attended information.