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J Neurophysiol. 2006 Jul;96(1):461-5. Epub 2006 May 3.

Smooth pursuit of nonvisual motion.

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  • 1Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.


Unlike saccades, smooth pursuit eye movements (SPEMs) are not under voluntary control and their initiation generally requires a moving visual target. However, there are various reports of limited smooth pursuit of the motion of a subject's own finger in total darkness (pursuit based on proprioceptive feedback) and to the combination of proprioception and tactile motion as an unseen finger was moved voluntarily over a smooth surface. In contrast, SPEMs to auditory motion are not distinguishable from pursuit of imagined motion. These reports of smooth pursuit of nonvisual motion cues used a variety of paradigms and different stimuli. In addition, the results have often relied primarily on qualitative descriptions of the smooth pursuit. Here, we directly compare measurements of smooth pursuit gain (eye velocity/stimulus velocity) to visual, auditory, proprioceptive, tactile, and combined tactile + proprioceptive motion stimuli. The results demonstrate high gains for visual pursuit, low gains for auditory pursuit, and intermediate, statistically indistinguishable gains for tactile, proprioceptive, and proprioceptive + tactile pursuit.

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