Micropursuit and the control of attention and eye movements in dynamic environments

Jie Z. Wang, Eileen Kowler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


It is more challenging to plan eye movements during perceptual tasks performed in dynamic displays than in static displays. Decisions about the timing of saccades become more critical, and decisions must also involve smooth eye movements, as well as saccades. The present study examined eye movements when judging which of two moving discs would arrive first, or collide, at a common meeting point. Perceptual discrimination after training was precise (Weber fractions < 6%). Strategies reflected a combined contribution of saccades and smooth eye movements. The preferred strategy was to look near the meeting point when strategies were freely chosen. When strategies were assigned, looking near the meeting point produced better performance than switching between the discs. Smooth eye movements were engaged in two ways: (a) low-velocity smooth eye movements correlated with the motion of each disc (micropursuit) were found while the line of sight remained between the discs; and (b) spontaneous smooth pursuit of the pair of discs occurred after the perceptual report, when the discs moved as a pair along a common path. The results show clear preferences and advantages for those eye movement strategies during dynamic perceptual tasks that require minimal management or effort. In addition, smooth eye movements, whose involvement during perceptual tasks within dynamic displays may have previously escaped notice, provide useful indictors of the strategies used to select information and distribute attention during the performance of dynamic perceptual tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


  • active vision
  • attention
  • eye movement strategies
  • eye movements
  • fixation
  • micropursuit
  • motion perception
  • smooth pursuit


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