Listing's law for eye, head and arm movements and their synergistic control

D Straumann, Thomas Haslwanter, MC Hepp-Reymond, K Hepp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

91 Citations (Scopus)


We have recorded eye, head, and upper arm rotations in five healthy human subjects using the three-dimensional search coil technique. Our measurements show that the coordination of eye and head movements during gaze shifts within ± 25 deg relative to the forward direction is organized by restricting the rotatory trajectories of the two systems to almost parallel planes. These so-called "Listing planes" for eye-in-space and head-in-space rotations are workspace-oriented, not body-fixed. Eye and head trajectories in their respective planes are closely related in direction and amplitude. For pointing or grasping, the rotatory trajectories of the arm are also restricted to a workspace-oriented Listing plane. During visually guided movements, arm follows gaze, and the nine-dimensional rotatory configuration space for eye-head-arm-synergies (three degrees of freedom for each system) is reduced to a two-dimensional plane in the space of quaternion vectors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-215
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1991


  • Arm
  • Coordination
  • Eye
  • Gaze
  • Head
  • Human
  • Reaching
  • Rotatory synergy


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