Anticipatory smooth pursuit eye movements evoked by probabilistic cues

Elio M. Santos, Eileen Kowler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Anticipatory smooth eye movements (ASEM; smooth eye movements in the direction of anticipated target motion) are elicited by cues that signal the direction of future target motion with high levels of certainty. Natural cues, however, rarely convey information with perfect certainty, and responses to uncertainty provide insights about how predictive behaviors are generated. Subjects smoothly pursued targets that moved to the right or left with varying cued probabilities. ASEM strength in a given direction increased with the probability level. The type of cue also played a role. ASEM elicited by symbolic visual cues tended to underweight low probabilities and overweight high probabilities. Cues based on memory (varying the proportion of trials with left or right motion) produced the opposite pattern, overweighting low probabilities and underweighting high probabilities. Finally, cues whose perceptual structure depicted the motion path produced a bias in ASEM in the depicted direction that was maintained across levels of cue congruency. The results show that the smooth pursuit system relies on a combination of signals, including memory for recent target motions, interpretation of cues, and prior beliefs about the relationship between the perceptual configuration and the motion path to determine the anticipatory response in the presence of uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


  • Anticipation
  • Anticipatory pursuit
  • Anticipatory smooth eye movements
  • Decisions
  • Expectations
  • Eye movements
  • Motion
  • Representations of probabilities
  • Smooth eye movements
  • Smooth pursuit


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