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J Vis. 2013 Jan 16;13(1). pii: 20. doi: 10.1167/13.1.20.

Saccades to future ball location reveal memory-based prediction in a virtual-reality interception task.

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Center for Perceptual Systems, University of Texas Austin, Austin, TX, USA.


Despite general agreement that prediction is a central aspect of perception, there is relatively little evidence concerning the basis on which visual predictions are made. Although both saccadic and pursuit eye-movements reveal knowledge of the future position of a moving visual target, in many of these studies targets move along simple trajectories through a fronto-parallel plane. Here, using a naturalistic and racquet-based interception task in a virtual environment, we demonstrate that subjects make accurate predictions of visual target motion, even when targets follow trajectories determined by the complex dynamics of physical interactions and the head and body are unrestrained. Furthermore, we found that, following a change in ball elasticity, subjects were able to accurately adjust their prebounce predictions of the ball's post-bounce trajectory. This suggests that prediction is guided by experience-based models of how information in the visual image will change over time.

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