The Moving Tablet of the Eye: Origins of modern eye movement research
Nicholas J. Wade and Benjamin W. Tatler
Publication date: 30 June 2005
Eye movements are a vital part of our interaction with the world. They play a pivotal role in perception, cognition, and education. Research in this field is now proceeding at a considerable pace and casting new light on how the eyes move and what information we can derive during the frequent and brief periods of fixation. However, the origins of this work are less well known, even though much of our knowledge was derived from this research with far more primitive equipment.
This book is unique in tracing the history of eye movement research. It shows how great strides were made in this area before modern recording devices were available, especially in the measurement of nystagmus. When photographic techniques were adapted to measure discontinuous eye movements, from about 1900, many of the issues that are now basic to modern research were then investigated. One of the earliest cognitive tasks examined was reading, and it remains in the vanguard of contemporary research.
Modern researchers in this field will be astonished at the subtleties of these early experimental studies and the ingenuity of interpretations that were advanced one and even two centuries ago. Though physicians often carried out the original eye movement research, later on it was pursued by psychologists – it is within contemporary neuroscience that we find these two strands reunited.