Speed and accuracy of saccadic eye movements: characteristics of impulse variability in the oculomotor system

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1989 Aug;15(3):529-43. doi: 10.1037//0096-1523.15.3.529.


Dynamic characteristics observed in the trajectories of saccadic eye movements reveal systematic variability of the force pulses used to move the eyes. This variability causes saccades to exhibit a linear speed-accuracy trade-off: As the average distance and duration of saccades toward specified target points increase, the standard deviations of saccadic-movement endpoints increase linearly with the saccades' average velocity. The linear trade-off, and other observed stochastic properties of saccades, may be attributed to noise in neuromotor processes and may be described in terms of an impulse-variability model originally designed for characterizing limb movements. According to the model, both eye and limb movements are controlled through stochastic force and time parameters that govern movement kinematics. Such an account may promote a unified conceptual framework for understanding a wide range of motor behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Adult
  • Eye Movements*
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Humans
  • Oculomotor Muscles / physiology*
  • Saccades*