Gaze fixation improves the stability of expert juggling

Joost C Dessing, Frédéric P Rey, Peter J Beek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Novice and expert jugglers employ different visuomotor strategies: whereas novices look at the balls around their zeniths, experts tend to fixate their gaze at a central location within the pattern (so-called gaze-through). A gaze-through strategy may reflect visuomotor parsimony, i.e., the use of simpler visuomotor (oculomotor and/or attentional) strategies as afforded by superior tossing accuracy and error corrections. In addition, the more stable gaze during a gaze-through strategy may result in more accurate movement planning by providing a stable base for gaze-centered neural coding of ball motion and movement plans or for shifts in attention. To determine whether a stable gaze might indeed have such beneficial effects on juggling, we examined juggling variability during 3-ball cascade juggling with and without constrained gaze fixation (at various depths) in expert performers (n = 5). Novice jugglers were included (n = 5) for comparison, even though our predictions pertained specifically to expert juggling. We indeed observed that experts, but not novices, juggled significantly less variable when fixating, compared to unconstrained viewing. Thus, while visuomotor parsimony might still contribute to the emergence of a gaze-through strategy, this study highlights an additional role for improved movement planning. This role may be engendered by gaze-centered coding and/or attentional control mechanisms in the brain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-44
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental brain research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Experimentation cerebrale
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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