The coordinate systems used in visual tracking

Vision Res. 2010 Nov 23;50(23):2375-80. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2010.09.026. Epub 2010 Sep 29.


Tracking moving objects is a fundamental attentional operation. Here we ask which coordinate system is used to track objects: retinal (retinotopic), scene-centered (allocentric), or both? Observers tracked three of six disks that were confined to move within an imaginary square. By moving either the imaginary square (and thus the disks contained within), the fixation cross, or both, we could dramatically increase the disks' speeds in one coordinate system while leaving them unchanged in the other, so as to impair tracking in only one coordinate system at a time. Hindering tracking in either coordinate system reduced tracking ability by an equal amount, suggesting that observers are compelled to use both coordinate systems and cannot choose to track only in the unimpaired coordinate system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Pursuit, Smooth / physiology*
  • Young Adult