Humans use Optokinetic Eye Movements to Track Waypoints for Steering

Otto Lappi, Jami Pekkanen, Paavo Rinkkala, Samuel Tuhkanen, Ari Tuononen, Juho-Pekka Virtanen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


It is well-established how visual stimuli and self-motion in laboratory conditions reliably elicit retinal-image-stabilizing compensatory eye movements (CEM). Their organization and roles in natural-task gaze strategies is much less understood: are CEM applied in active sampling of visual information in human locomotion in the wild? If so, how? And what are the implications for guidance? Here, we directly compare gaze behavior in the real world (driving a car) and a fixed base simulation steering task. A strong and quantifiable correspondence between self-rotation and CEM counter-rotation is found across a range of speeds. This gaze behavior is “optokinetic”, i.e. optic flow is a sufficient stimulus to spontaneously elicit it in naïve subjects and vestibular stimulation or stereopsis are not critical. Theoretically, the observed nystagmus behavior is consistent with tracking waypoints on the future path, and predicted by waypoint models of locomotor control - but inconsistent with travel point models, such as the popular tangent point model.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4175
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 6162 Cognitive science
  • HEAD
  • GAZE
  • FLOW

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