What determines the direction of microsaccades?

Frouke Hermens, Robin Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


During visual fixation, our eyes are not entirely still. Instead, small eye movements, such as microsaccades, can be observed. We here investigate what determines the direction and frequency of these microsaccades, as this information might help to clarifywhat purpose they serve. The relative contribution of three possible factorswas examined: (1) the orienting of covert attention, (2) the spatial distribution of possible target locations, and (3) whether monocular or binocular microsaccades are considered. The orienting of covert attention and the distribution of possible target locations had a relatively weak effect on microsaccade rates and directions. In contrast, the classification of microsaccades as binocular (occurring in both eyes simultaneously) or monocular (observed in one eye only) strongly affected both the rate and the direction of microsaccades. The results are discussed in the context of existing findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of eye movement research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • attention
  • eye movements
  • microsaccades


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