Coordinating vision and action in natural behaviour: differences in spatiotemporal coupling in everyday tasks

Sharon Scrafton, Matthew J Stainer, Benjamin W Tatler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Vision and action are tightly coupled in space and time: for many tasks we must look at the right place at the right time to gather the information that we need to complete our behavioural goals. Vision typically leads action by about 0.5 seconds in many natural tasks. However, the factors that influence this temporal coordination are not well understood, and variations have been found previously between two domestic tasks each with similar constraints: tea-making and sandwich-making. This study offers a systematic exploration of the factors that govern spatiotemporal coordination of vision and action within complex real world activities. We found that the temporal coordination eye movements and action differed between tea-making and sandwich-making. Longer eye hand latencies, more ‘look ahead’ fixations and more looks to irrelevant objects were found when making tea than when making a sandwich. Contrary to previous suggestions we found that the requirement to move around the environment did not influence the coordination of vision and action. We conclude that the dynamics of visual behaviour during motor acts are sensitive to the task and specific objects and actions required but not to the spatial demands requiring movement around an environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-145
Number of pages13
JournalCanadian Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • eye-movements
  • vision
  • action
  • spatiotemporal
  • coordination


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