Tracking with the mind's eye

Trends Neurosci. 1999 Dec;22(12):544-50. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(99)01464-2.


The two components of voluntary tracking eye-movements in primates, pursuit and saccades, are generally viewed as relatively independent oculomotor subsystems that move the eyes in different ways using independent visual information. Although saccades have long been known to be guided by visual processes related to perception and cognition, only recently have psychophysical and physiological studies provided compelling evidence that pursuit is also guided by such higher-order visual processes, rather than by the raw retinal stimulus. Pursuit and saccades also do not appear to be entirely independent anatomical systems, but involve overlapping neural mechanisms that might be important for coordinating these two types of eye movement during the tracking of a selected visual object. Given that the recovery of objects from real-world images is inherently ambiguous, guiding both pursuit and saccades with perception could represent an explicit strategy for ensuring that these two motor actions are driven by a single visual interpretation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Pursuit, Smooth / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*