Capture of fixation by rotational flow; a deterministic hypothesis regarding scaling and stochasticity in fixational eye movements.
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Visual scan paths exhibit complex, stochastic dynamics. Even during visual fixation, the eye is in constant motion. Fixational drift and tremor are thought to reflect fluctuations in the persistent neural activity of neural integrators in the oculomotor brainstem, which integrate sequences of transient saccadic velocity signals into a short term memory of eye position. Despite intensive research and much progress, the precise mechanisms by which oculomotor posture is maintained remain elusive. Drift exhibits a stochastic statistical profile which has been modeled using random walk formalisms. Tremor is widely dismissed as noise. Here we focus on the dynamical profile of fixational tremor, and argue that tremor may be a signal which usefully reflects the workings of oculomotor postural control. We identify signatures reminiscent of a certain flavor of transient neurodynamics; toric traveling waves which rotate around a central phase singularity. Spiral waves play an organizational role in dynamical systems at many scales throughout nature, though their potential functional role in brain activity remains a matter of educated speculation. Spiral waves have a repertoire of functionally interesting dynamical properties, including persistence, which suggest that they could in theory contribute to persistent neural activity in the oculomotor postural control system. Whilst speculative, the singularity hypothesis of oculomotor postural control implies testable predictions, and could provide the beginnings of an integrated dynamical framework for eye movements across scales.
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