Author(s): Spering M, Schtz AC, Braun DI, Gegenfurtner KR, Spering M, Schtz AC, Braun DI, Gegenfurtner KR
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Abstract Success of motor behavior often depends on the ability to predict the path of moving objects. Here we asked whether tracking a visual object with smooth pursuit eye movements helps to predict its motion direction. We developed a paradigm, "eye soccer," in which observers had to either track or fixate a visual target (ball) and judge whether it would have hit or missed a stationary vertical line segment (goal). Ball and goal were presented briefly for 100-500 ms and disappeared from the screen together before the perceptual judgment was prompted. In pursuit conditions, the ball moved towards the goal; in fixation conditions, the goal moved towards the stationary ball, resulting in similar retinal stimulation during pursuit and fixation. We also tested the condition in which the goal was fixated and the ball moved. Motion direction prediction was significantly better in pursuit than in fixation trials, regardless of whether ball or goal served as fixation target. In both fixation and pursuit trials, prediction performance was better when eye movements were accurate. Performance also increased with shorter ball-goal distance and longer presentation duration. A longer trajectory did not affect performance. During pursuit, an efference copy signal might provide additional motion information, leading to the advantage in motion prediction.
This article was published in J Neurophysiol
and referenced in Journal of Bioengineering & Biomedical Science