Accuracy of Eye Position for Saccades and Smooth Pursuit

Journal Article


In this study, we address the question of whether a target is foveated during smooth pursuit. Specifically, we examine whether smooth pursuit eye movements land near the center-of-mass of the target, as is the case for saccades. To that end, we instructed eight untrained, healthy participants to follow moving targets, presented monocularly in a scanning laser ophthalmoscope. Stimuli moved either in a modified step-ramp (smooth pursuit), or made a single step (saccade), stepping 6° from the center. Targets were ring-shaped and either 0.6° or 1.7° in diameter. In an additional set of experiments, two participants collected more extensive data on smooth pursuit and saccades for a larger range of target sizes (0.6°, 1.7°, or 4.3°). During pursuit, eyes were rarely placed at target center, even when participants' fixational stability was taken into account. Furthermore, there was a clear tendency for distance from target center to increase with target size. This outcome was in contrast to saccades, where there was no effect of target size across participants. The difference in foveal placement between the two types of eye movements is consistent with their different purposes: closer inspection of the target for saccades versus maintenance of the target in the visual field for smooth pursuit.


Journal of Vision





Year of Publication