Effects of contrast on smooth pursuit eye movements

Miriam Spering, Dirk Kerzel, Doris I. Braun, Michael J. Hawken, Karl R. Gegenfurtner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is well known that moving stimuli can appear to move more slowly when contrast is reduced (P. Thompson, 1982). Here we address the question whether changes in stimulus contrast also affect smooth pursuit eye movements. Subjects were asked to smoothly track a moving Gabor patch. Targets varied in velocity (1, 8, and 15 deg/s), spatial frequency (0.1, 1, 4, and 8 c/deg), and contrast, ranging from just below individual thresholds to maximum contrast. Results show that smooth pursuit eye velocity gain rose significantly with increasing contrast. Below a contrast level of two to three times threshold, pursuit gain, acceleration, latency, and positional accuracy were severely impaired. Therefore, the smooth pursuit motor response shows the same kind of slowing at low contrast that was demonstrated in previous studies on perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6
Pages (from-to)455-465
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 20 2005


  • Contrast
  • Eye movements
  • Motion
  • Smooth pursuit
  • Spatial frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of contrast on smooth pursuit eye movements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this