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J Vis. 2003 Nov 18;3(11):677-84.

Eye-movements aid the control of locomotion.

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School of Psychology, University of Reading, Reading, UK.


Eye-movements have long been considered a problem when trying to understand the visual control of locomotion. They transform the retinal image from a simple expanding pattern of moving texture elements (pure optic flow), into a complex combination of translation and rotation components (retinal flow). In this article we investigate whether there are measurable advantages to having an active free gaze, over a static gaze or tracking gaze, when steering along a winding path. We also examine patterns of free gaze behavior to determine preferred gaze strategies during active locomotion. Participants were asked to steer along a computer-simulated textured roadway with free gaze, fixed gaze, or gaze tracking the center of the roadway. Deviation of position from the center of the road was recorded along with their point of gaze. It was found that visually tracking the middle of the road produced smaller steering errors than for fixed gaze. Participants performed best at the steering task when allowed to sample naturally from the road ahead with free gaze. There was some variation in the gaze strategies used, but sampling was predominantly of areas proximal to the center of the road. These results diverge from traditional models of flow analysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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