Vision and Action

Annu Rev Vis Sci. 2017 Sep 15:3:389-413. doi: 10.1146/annurev-vision-102016-061437. Epub 2017 Jul 17.


Investigation of natural behavior has contributed a number of insights to our understanding of visual guidance of actions by highlighting the importance of behavioral goals and focusing attention on how vision and action play out in time. In this context, humans make continuous sequences of sensory-motor decisions to satisfy current behavioral goals, and the role of vision is to provide the relevant information for making good decisions in order to achieve those goals. This conceptualization of visually guided actions as a sequence of sensory-motor decisions has been formalized within the framework of statistical decision theory, which structures the problem and provides the context for much recent progress in vision and action. Components of a good decision include the task, which defines the behavioral goals, the rewards and costs associated with those goals, uncertainty about the state of the world, and prior knowledge.

Keywords: memory; natural behavior; prediction; reaching; saccades; sensory-motor decisions; statistical decision theory.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Feedback, Sensory / physiology
  • Goals
  • Memory / physiology
  • Motivation / physiology
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Reward
  • Sensorimotor Cortex / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*