Tracking the Mind's Eye: Primate Gaze Behavior during Virtual Visuomotor Navigation Reflects Belief Dynamics

Kaushik J. Lakshminarasimhan, Eric Avila, Erin Neyhart, Gregory C. DeAngelis, Xaq Pitkow, Dora E. Angelaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To take the best actions, we often need to maintain and update beliefs about variables that cannot be directly observed. To understand the principles underlying such belief updates, we need tools to uncover subjects' belief dynamics from natural behavior. We tested whether eye movements could be used to infer subjects' beliefs about latent variables using a naturalistic navigation task. Humans and monkeys navigated to a remembered goal location in a virtual environment that provided optic flow but lacked explicit position cues. We observed eye movements that appeared to continuously track the goal location even when no visible target was present there. Accurate goal tracking was associated with improved task performance, and inhibiting eye movements in humans impaired navigation precision. These results suggest that gaze dynamics play a key role in action selection during challenging visuomotor behaviors and may possibly serve as a window into the subject's dynamically evolving internal beliefs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)662-674.e5
JournalNeuron
Volume106
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 20 2020

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Decision Making/physiology
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular/physiology
  • Humans
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Spatial Navigation/physiology
  • Young Adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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