Eye movements reveal spatiotemporal dynamics of visually-informed planning in navigation

Seren Zhu, Kaushik J. Lakshminarasimhan, Nastaran Arfaei, Dora E. Angelaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Goal-oriented navigation is widely understood to depend upon internal maps. Although this may be the case in many settings, humans tend to rely on vision in complex, unfamiliar environments. To study the nature of gaze during visually-guided navigation, we tasked humans to navigate to transiently visible goals in virtual mazes of varying levels of difficulty, observing that they took near-optimal trajectories in all arenas. By analyzing participants’ eye movements, we gained insights into how they performed visually-informed planning. The spatial distribution of gaze revealed that environmental complexity mediated a striking trade-off in the extent to which attention was directed towards two complimentary aspects of the world model: the reward location and task-relevant transitions. The temporal evolution of gaze revealed rapid, sequential prospection of the future path, evocative of neural replay. These findings suggest that the spatiotemporal charac-teristics of gaze during navigation are significantly shaped by the unique cognitive computations underlying real-world, sequential decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere73097
StatePublished - May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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