Ocular pursuit movements

Graham R. Barnes

in The Oxford Handbook of Eye Movements

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199539789
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Ocular pursuit movements

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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Ocular pursuit movements allow moving objects to be tracked with a combination of smooth movements and saccades. The principal objective is to maintain smooth eye velocity close to object velocity, thus minimizing retinal image motion and maintaining acuity. Saccadic movements serve to realign the image if it falls outside the fovea, the area of highest acuity. Pursuit is initially driven by visual feedback when responding to unexpected object motion. However, internal (extraretinal) mechanisms rapidly take over and sustain pursuit if object velocity is constant. If object motion is periodic, delays in visual motion processing create potential response delays, but these are countered by predictive processes, probably also operating through internal, efference copy mechanisms using short-term memory to store motion information from prior stimulation.

Keywords: ocular pursuit movements; smooth eye velocity; pursuit; positional errors; cognitive processing

Article.  10251 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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