RUTGERS - THE STATE UNIV NEW BRUNSWICKNJ DEPT OF PSYCHOLOGY
When we look around a natural environment the eye is directed toward objects we select. We seem to do this task accurately and effortlessly. Yet, even such a simple task presents real problems for the oculomotor system, namely, to select the relevant target from the detailed background so that only information contained in it influences the line of sight and to spatially-pool information in the selected target so that the line of sight lands at a single position within the selected target. We have found that 1 the saccadic target is designated by means of selective perceptual attention, which means people cannot prepare to look to one target while accurately perceiving targets elsewhere, and 2 there is a highly-accurate spatial pooling process which can direct the line of sight to precise positions within large targets. The results show that the oculomotor system is capable of extremely rapid and effective scanning. The procedures humans use to accomplish this task may prove useful for the guidance of robotic systems which need to move about in patterned visual environments.