Eye movements in natural behavior

Trends Cogn Sci. 2005 Apr;9(4):188-94. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2005.02.009.


The classic experiments of Yarbus over 50 years ago revealed that saccadic eye movements reflect cognitive processes. But it is only recently that three separate advances have greatly expanded our understanding of the intricate role of eye movements in cognitive function. The first is the demonstration of the pervasive role of the task in guiding where and when to fixate. The second has been the recognition of the role of internal reward in guiding eye and body movements, revealed especially in neurophysiological studies. The third important advance has been the theoretical developments in the fields of reinforcement learning and graphic simulation. All of these advances are proving crucial for understanding how behavioral programs control the selection of visual information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / instrumentation
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / methods*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*