Until now, no one had succeeded in eliciting reliable smooth-pursuit eye movements in humans without a moving target on the screen. Smooth-pursuit eye movements in the absence of a target was only possible for short periods of time in anticipation of target motion onset (Barnes 2008) or during transient blanking of a moving target (Orban de Xivry et al.2008) but these movements cannot be voluntarily controlled. An article by Lorenceau (2012) precisely describes such an experiment.
Beyond this amazing experiment, most of the subjects succeeded so well at the task that they were able to control their eye movements in order to write numbers and letters. Impressively, writing with their eyes was as fast as their handwriting. Therefore, this experiment has very direct practical applications and opens a new field of ‘eye-machine interface’.
This post is a modified version of an evaluation that I wrote for f1000.
2. Orban de Xivry, J.-J., Missal, M. & Lefèvre, P. A dynamic representation of target motion drives predictive smooth pursuit during target blanking. Journal of vision 8, 6.1–13 (2008).
3. Lorenceau, J. Cursive Writing with Smooth Pursuit Eye Movements. Current Biology 1–4 (2012).doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.06.026