, Volume 120, Issue 1, pp 129-133

Fast, anticipatory smooth-pursuit eye movements appear to depend on a short-term store

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Anticipatory smooth pursuit before the expected appearance of a moving target can reduce the initial retinal blur caused by the 100-ms delay of visual feedback. Humans, though, can only voluntarily generate smooth velocities up to about 5°/s without a moving target. However, previous experiments have shown that repetitive brief presentations of a moving target every few seconds appear to charge an internal store, the contents of which can later be released to generate higher velocity anticipatory movements. This store’s longevity was assessed here by repetitively presenting a moving target for 500 ms at different known intervals up to 7.2 s. Target motion at 25°/s or 50°/s was tested, with presentations in alternate directions or the same direction. Anticipatory velocity, measured 100 ms after target onset, decreased with increasing interval for all target motion conditions. A decrease was still seen when accurate timing cues were given before each presentation, suggesting that the drive for anticipatory pursuit is held in a short-term store lasting a few seconds which can enhance the low velocities produced by volition alone. The results also demonstrate that high-velocity anticipatory pursuit helps to overcome the temporal delays in the system and allows target velocity to be matched at an earlier time.

Received: 27 August 1997 / Accepted: 22 December 1997