Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Understanding Smooth Eye Pursuit: The Incredible Targeting System Of Human Vision

Date:
July 5, 2007
Source:
University of Pennsylvania
Summary:
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have shed new light on how the brain and eye team up to spot an object in motion and follow it, a classic question of human motor control.

Eye diagram.
Credit: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have shed new light on how the brain and eye team up to spot an object in motion and follow it, a classic question of human motor control. The study shows that two distinctly different ways of seeing motion are used - one to catch up to a moving object with our eyes, a second to lock on and examine it.

"Without the ability to lock our eyes onto a moving target, something called smooth pursuit, athletes cannot 'keep their eye on the ball,' and a person walking down the street cannot examine the facial expression or identity of a passerby," said Jeremy Wilmer, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology in Penn's School of Arts and Sciences and lead author of the study.

Researchers found that volunteers showed a range of capabilities when it came to sensing and following motion, and the careful measurement of such differences produced novel insights into the workings of the smooth pursuit system.

"Our automatic tendency is to assume you and I see the same baseball, or color, or face, but in fact our experiences can be quite different," Wilmer said. "The assumption of a common visual experience can backfire when we assume wrongly that the person next to us perceives the same flying projectile, or red hexagonal sign, or emotion that we do."

Researchers explored the two ways of perceiving motion to see how each contributes to smooth pursuit. The first, called low-level motion perception, is the sense one gets of disembodied motion before knowing what is moving. The second, called high-level motion perception, is the ability to watch an object move through time and space after it has been recognized.

Participants who were good at low-level motion perception caught up to a moving object with their eyes more easily. A completely different set of volunteers exhibited skill at high-level motion perception and were much better at locking onto a moving target once their eyes caught up to it. This result shows that distinct experiences of motion drive different stages of smooth pursuit.

"Our experience of the world normally appears quite seamless," Wilmer said, "but in fact our brain sees many aspects separately and knits them together into one experience of the world."

The study result builds on research into how piecemeal processing in the brain leads to holistic experience and seamless behavior. It also provides insight into a smooth pursuit system important for both social skills and sports. The first in-depth study of how individuals differ from each other in their ability to sense and follow motion, this research sets the stage for future studies of genetic and environmental influences that shape conscious visual experience.

Smooth pursuit ability is rare in the animal kingdom and only well developed in primates such as humans, and in praying mantises.

"It could be," Wilmer said, "that a penchant for high-level motion perception is essential for our incredibly handy ability to lock onto and examine moving objects."

Wilmer and Ken Nakayama, professor of psychology at Harvard University, reported their findings in the current issue of Neuron.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Eye Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania. "Understanding Smooth Eye Pursuit: The Incredible Targeting System Of Human Vision." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070702145312.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania. (2007, July 5). Understanding Smooth Eye Pursuit: The Incredible Targeting System Of Human Vision. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070702145312.htm
University of Pennsylvania. "Understanding Smooth Eye Pursuit: The Incredible Targeting System Of Human Vision." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070702145312.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins