Anticipation of physical causality guides eye movements

  • Kim Wende Université catholique de Louvain
  • Laetitia Theunissen Université catholique de Louvain
  • Marcus Missal Université catholique de Louvain
Keywords: causality perception, saccades, smooth pursuit


Causality is a unique feature of human perception. We present here a behavioral investigation of the influence of physical causality during visual pursuit of object collisions. Pursuit and saccadic eye movements of human subjects were recorded during ocular pursuit of two concurrently launched targets, one that moved according to the laws of Newtonian mechanics (the causal target) and the other one that moved in a physically implausible direction (the non-causal target). We found that anticipation of collision evoked early smooth pursuit decelerations. Saccades to non-causal targets were hypermetric and had latencies longer than saccades to causal targets. In conclusion, before and after a collision of two moving objects the oculomotor system implicitly predicts upcoming physically plausible target trajectories.
How to Cite
Wende, K., Theunissen, L., & Missal, M. (2016). Anticipation of physical causality guides eye movements. Journal of Eye Movement Research, 9(2).