In tracking a moving target, the visual context may provide cues for an observer to interpret the causal nature of the target motion and extract features to which the visual system is weakly sensitive, such as target acceleration. This information could be critical when vision of the target is temporarily impeded, requiring visual motion extrapolation processes. Here we investigated how visual context influences ocular tracking of motion either congruent or not with natural gravity. To this end, 28 subjects tracked computer-simulated ballistic trajectories either perturbed in the descending segment with altered gravity effects (0g/2g) or retaining natural-like motion (1g). Shortly after the perturbation (550 ms), targets disappeared for either 450 or 650 ms and became visible again until landing. Target motion occurred with either quasi-realistic pictorial cues or a uniform background, presented in counterbalanced order. We analyzed saccadic and pursuit movements after 0g and 2g target-motion perturbations and for corresponding intervals of unperturbed 1g trajectories, as well as after corresponding occlusions. Moreover, we considered the eye-to-target distance at target reappearance. Tracking parameters differed significantly between scenarios: With a neutral background, eye movements did not depend consistently on target motion, whereas with pictorial background they showed significant dependence, denoting better tracking of accelerated targets. These results suggest that oculomotor control is tuned to realistic properties of the visual scene.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems