Processing the visual sense is one of the most considerable endeavors of the human brain. One

Encyclopedia of the Human Brain Volume 2

Copyright 2002, Elsevier Science (USA).

All rights reserved.

measure of the complexity of this function is that more than 30 distinct "visual" brain regions have been identified as contributing to the visual percept. Although eye movements are not required for visual function, they immensely improve the ability of primates to gather relevant, high-quality visual data for processing by this large expanse of neocortex. Thus, it is not surprising that a sizeable complement of cortical and subcortical circuits of the human brain is concerned with moving the eyes, nor that eye movements are often closely related to cognitive behavior.

This article is organized around three fundamental questions:

Why move the eyes? (What are the functions of eye movements?)

How do the eyes move? (What is the phenomenology and kinematics of eye movements?) What moves the eyes? (Which neural structures and circuits effect eye movements?)

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