Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 212, Issue 2, pp 225–240 | Cite as

The influence of cues and stimulus history on the non-linear frequency characteristics of the pursuit response to randomized target motion

  • Graham R. BarnesEmail author
  • C. J. Sue Collins
Research Article


When humans pursue motion stimuli composed of alternating constant velocity segments of randomised duration (RD), they nevertheless initiate anticipatory eye deceleration before stimulus direction changes at a pre-programmed time based on averaging prior stimulus timing. We investigated, in both the time and frequency domains, how averaging interacts with deceleration cues by comparing responses to stimuli composed of segments that were either constant-velocity ramps or half-cycle sinusoids. RDs were randomized within 6 ranges, each comprising 8 RDs and having differing mean RD. In sine responses, deceleration cues could be used to modulate eye velocity for long-range stimuli (RD = 840–1,200 ms) but in the shortest range (RD = 240–660 ms) cues became ineffective, so that sine responses resembled ramp responses, and anticipatory timing was primarily dependent on averaging. Additionally, inclusion of short duration (240 ms) segments reduced peak eye velocity for all RDs within a range, even when longer RDs in the range (up to 1,080 ms) would normally elicit much higher velocities. These effects could be attributed to antagonistic interactions between visually driven pursuit components and pre-programmed anticipatory deceleration components. In the frequency domain, the changes in peak velocity and anticipatory timing with RD range were translated into non-linear gain and phase characteristics similar to those evoked by sum-of-sines stimuli. Notably, a reduction in pursuit gain occurred when high-frequency components associated with short duration segments were present. Results appear consistent with an adapted pursuit model, in which pre-programmed timing information derived from an internally reconstructed stimulus signal is stored in short-term memory and controls the initiation of predictive responses.


Eye movements Pursuit Expectation Prediction Frequency response Humans 



We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Medical Research Council who provided the funds to carry out this research. We would also like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for very helpful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Life SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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