Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 204, Issue 4, pp 539–547 | Cite as

Using vision to control locomotion: looking where you want to go

  • R. M. Wilkie
  • G. K. Kountouriotis
  • N. Merat
  • J. P. Wann
Research Article


Looking at the inside edge of the road when steering a bend seems to be a well-established strategy linked to using a feature called the tangent point. An alternative proposal suggests that the gaze patterns observed when steering result from looking at the points in the world through which one wishes to pass. In this explanation fixation on or near the tangent point results from trying to take a trajectory that cuts the corner. To test these accounts, we recorded gaze and steering when taking different paths along curved roadways. Participants could gauge and maintain their lateral distance, but crucially, gaze was predominantly directed to the region proximal to the desired path rather than toward the tangent point per se. These results show that successful control of high-speed locomotion requires fixations in the direction you want to steer rather than using a single road feature like the tangent point.


Locomotion Gaze Steering Driving Tangent point Road Perception Action 



Georgios Kountouriotis was funded by an EPSRC PhD studentship. Thanks to Prof. Mark Mon-Williams and Dr Clare Harley for providing suggestions on earlier versions of this manuscript. Research supported by EPSRC UK Grant EP/D055342/1.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. M. Wilkie
    • 1
  • G. K. Kountouriotis
    • 1
    • 2
  • N. Merat
    • 2
  • J. P. Wann
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Psychological SciencesUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  2. 2.Institute of Transport StudiesUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyRoyal Holloway University of LondonEgham, SurreyUK

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