Tracking without perceiving: A dissociation between eye movements and motion perception

Miriam Spering, Marc Pomplun, Marisa Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Can people react to objects in their visual field that they do not consciously perceive? We investigated how visual perception and motor action respond to moving objects whose visibility is reduced, and we found a dissociation between motion processing for perception and for action. We compared motion perception and eye movements evoked by two orthogonally drifting gratings, each presented separately to a different eye. The strength of each monocular grating was manipulated by inducing adaptation to one grating prior to the presentation of both gratings. Reflexive eye movements tracked the vector average of both gratings (pattern motion) even though perceptual responses followed one motion direction exclusively (component motion). Observers almost never perceived pattern motion. This dissociation implies the existence of visual-motion signals that guide eye movements in the absence of a corresponding conscious percept.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-225
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • eye movements
  • motion perception
  • motor processes
  • visual perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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