Eye movements and their functions in everyday tasks

Eye (Lond). 2015 Feb;29(2):196-9. doi: 10.1038/eye.2014.275. Epub 2014 Nov 14.


Human saccades and fixations have numerous functions in complex everyday tasks, which have sometimes been neglected in simple experimental situations. In this review I describe some of the characteristics of eye movement behaviour during real-world interactions with objects, while walking in natural environments and while holding a conversation. When performing real-world actions and walking around the world, we fixate relevant features at critical time points during the task. The eye movements between these fixations are planned and coordinated alongside head and body movements, often occurring a short time before the corresponding action. In social interactions, eye movements are both a mechanism for taking in information (for example, when looking at someone's face or following their gaze) and for signalling one's attention to another person. Thus eye movements are specific to a particular task context and subject to high-level planning and control during everyday actions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology*