Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Visual tuning to kinematics of biological motion: the role of eye movements

  • 46 Accesses

  • 8 Citations


The visual system is particularly sensitive to the covariation between velocity and curvature that constraint biological motion. Previous work showed that, when this biological constraint is satisfied, simple elliptical motion of a dot looks constant, although its velocity is highly non-uniform. This paper addresses the hypothesis that such a dynamic illusion is dependent upon smooth pursuit eye movements. Subjects had to adjust the kinematics of a dot moving along elliptical trajectories until they perceived a constant velocity. Different pursuit and fixation conditions were tested. The research shows that the dynamic illusion is largely independent of eye movements, suggesting that the visual system has access to implicit knowledge of motor constraints regardless of the concurrent oculomotor commands.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Beardworth T, Bukner T (1981) The ability to recognize oneself from a video recording of one's movement without one's body. Bull Psychonom Soc 18: 19–22

  2. Bertenthal BI, Proffitt DR, Kramer SJ (1987) Perception of biomechanical motion by infants: implementation of various processing constraints. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 13: 577–585

  3. Bradley DR, Godiksen EB (1984) The “shrinking circle illusion” is a shrinking ellipse. Perception 13: 207–212

  4. Coren S (1986) An efferent component in the visual perception of direction and extent. Psychol Rev 93: 391–410

  5. Coren S, Bradley DR, Hoenig P, Girgus JS (1975) The effect of smooth tracking and saccadic eye movements on the perception of size: the shrinking circle illusion. Vision Res 15: 49–52

  6. Cutting JE (1981) Coding theory adapted to gait perception. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 7: 71–87

  7. Festinger L, White CW, Allyn MR (1968) Eye movements and decrement in the Muller-Lyer illusion. Percept Psychophys 3: 376–382

  8. Gauthier GM, de'Sperati C, Tempia F, Marchetti E, Strata P (1995) Eye motion-coding information mediates adaptive modification of vestibulo-ocular reflex in rat. Exp Brain Res (in press)

  9. Grüsser OJ (1986) The effect of gaze motor signals and spatially directed attention on eye movements and visual perception. Prog Brain Res 64: 391–404

  10. Johansson G (1977) Studies on visual perception of locomotion. Perception 6: 365–376

  11. Ludvigh E (1952) Possible role of proprioception in the extraocular muscles. Arch Ophthalmol 48: 436–441

  12. Massey JT, Lurito JT, Pellizzer G, Georgopoulos AP (1992) Three-dimensional drawings in isometric conditions: relation between geometry and kinematics. Exp Brain Res 88: 685–690

  13. Rouanet H, Lecoutre B (1983) Specific inference in ANOVA: from significance tests to Bayesian procedures. B J Math Stat Psychol 36: 252–268

  14. Shepard RN (1984) Ecological constraints on internal representation: resonant kinematics of perceiving, imaging, thinking, and dreaming. Psychol Rev 4: 417–447

  15. Shiffrar M, Freyd JJ (1990) Apparent motion of the human body. Psychol Sci 1: 257–264

  16. Steinbach MJ (1987) Proprioceptive knowledge of eye position. Vision Res 10: 1737–1744

  17. Viviani P, Mounoud P (1990) Perceptuo-motor compatibility in pursuit tracking of two-dimensional movements. J Mot Behav 22: 407–443

  18. Viviani P, Schneider R (1991) A developmental study of the relation between geometry and kinematics in drawing movements. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 17: 198–218

  19. Viviani P, Stucchi N (1989) The effect of movement velocity on form perception: geometric illusions in dynamic displays. Percept Psychophys 46: 266–274

  20. Viviani P, Stucchi N (1992) Biological movements look uniform: evidence of motor-perceptual interactions. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 18: 603–623

  21. Viviani P, Terzuolo CA (1982) Trajectory determines movement dynamics. Neuroscience 7: 431–437

  22. Wallach H (1990) The role of eye movements in the perception of motion and shape. In: Kowler E (ed) Eye movements and their role in visual and cognitive processes. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 289–305

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

de'Sperati, C., Stucchi, N. Visual tuning to kinematics of biological motion: the role of eye movements. Exp Brain Res 105, 254–260 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00240961

Download citation

Key words

  • Perceptuo-motor interactions
  • Eye movements
  • Visual perception
  • Implicit knowledge
  • Motor control