Why Our Eyes Scan Smoothly Only When Following A Moving Object

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Why can our eyes smoothly scan a moving object like a passing car or the ball at a tennis match (when our head is still), but if we try and duplicate that dynamic without a moving object they, move in big individual movements?

Seems simply to be an involuntary / voluntary thing, but it still baffles me.

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4 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because your brain fixes your vision in your head after the fact.

Your eyes are actually constantly moving small amounts in random directions. You don’t notice becaue the brain decides it isn’t important, so what gets “seen” by your brain doesn’t include that motion.

For tracking an object, that became a skill that was useful for our survival, so our brains developed the ability to do that efficiently. Forcing your eyes to do the same motion without that input mucks up the already-established algorithm, asking your brain to do something it hasn’t practiced much.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Think about it – this is the most efficient movement for your eyes to make to look at things.

Panning over an area without focusing on specific points provides no advantage. However it is easier for us to notice things that are moving when our eyes aren’t in motion. So in this case even if you don’t need to focus on anything specifically, by your eyes moving and stopping repeatedly you have an advantage of spotting something that is moving.

When you consider that one of the reasons to generally scan an area is for threats, our current eye behavior is an evolutionary advantage over the alternative.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s simply because our eyes were made to focus on targets. If you try to look across the room in a smooth motion, your mind constantly tries to find a point of focus, because your mind pieces everything together based off of perspective.

If you don’t have a point of perspective, your mind cannot build a picture of your surroundings, as there is nothing specific to compare the rest to.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Your eyes aren’t actually moving smoothly. They still “skip” and your brain just fills in the in-between a with what it thinks should be there.

There was a sci-fi book? movie? where monsters lived or moved in the in-betweens so humans couldn’t see them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saccadic_masking?wprov=sfti1