Ocular responses to linear motion are inversely proportional to viewing distance

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Science  22 Sep 1989:
Vol. 245, Issue 4924, pp. 1394-1396
DOI: 10.1126/science.2506641


Eye movements exist to improve vision, in part by preventing excessive retinal image slip. A major threat to the stability of the retinal image comes from the observer's own movement, and there are visual and vestibular reflexes that operate to meet this challenge by generating compensatory eye movements. The ocular responses to translational disturbances of the observer and of the scene were recorded from monkeys. The associated vestibular and visual responses were both linearly dependent on the inverse of the viewing distance. Such dependence on proximity is appropriate for the vestibular reflex, which must transform signals from Cartesian to polar coordinates, but not for the visual reflex, which operates entirely in polar coordinates. However, such shared proximity effects in the visual reflex could compensate for known intrinsic limitations that would otherwise compromise performance at near viewing.

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