Persistence and phase synchronisation properties of fixational eye movements

S. Moshel, A. Z. Zivotofsky, L. Jin-Rong, R. Engbert, J. Kurths, R. Kliegl, S. Havlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


When we fixate our gaze on a stable object, our eyes move continuously with extremely small involuntary and autonomic movements, that even we are unaware of during their occurrence. One of the roles of these fixational eye movements is to prevent the adaptation of the visual system to continuous illumination and inhibit fading of the image. These random, small movements are restricted at long time scales so as to keep the target at the centre of the field of view. In addition, the synchronisation properties between both eyes are related to binocular coordination in order to provide stereopsis. We investigated the roles of different time scale behaviours, especially how they are expressed in the different spatial directions (vertical versus horizontal). We also tested the synchronisation between both eyes. Results show different scaling behaviour between horizontal and vertical movements. When the small ballistic movements, i.e., microsaccades, are removed, the scaling behaviour in both axes becomes similar. Our findings suggest that microsaccades enhance the persistence at short time scales mostly in the horizontal component and muchless in the vertical component. We also applied the phase synchronisation decay method to study the synchronisation between six combinations of binocular fixational eye movement components. We found that the vertical-vertical components of right and left eyes are significantly more synchronised than the horizontal-horizontal components. These differences may be due to the need for continuously moving the eyes in the horizontal plane in order to match the stereoscopic image for different viewing distances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-223
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Physical Journal: Special Topics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2008


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