Eye-head coordination for the steering of locomotion in humans: an anticipatory synergy

Neurosci Lett. 1998 Sep 4;253(2):115-8. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3940(98)00625-9.


We investigated head and gaze orientation in six healthy volunteers walking along 90 degrees corner trajectories, both at light and with eyes closed. We found that head and eyes systematically deviated toward the future direction of the curved trajectory. Anticipation lead was about 1 s. Strikingly, the same behaviour was observed in darkness. In backward (BW) locomotion along the trajectory (from end- to start-point), gaze deviated toward the opposite direction, such that the forward locomotor pattern did not appear time-reversed. Orienting movements displayed higher amplitude, reproducibility and time lead in the forward (FW) direction at light. We suggest that anticipatory orienting synergies belong to the behavioural repertoire of human navigation and may reflect the need to prepare a stable reference frame for intended action.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Darkness
  • Electrooculography
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology*
  • Head* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Walking / physiology