A pursuit is a type of eye movement in which the eyes remain fixated on a moving object.
Pursuits in the Real World
You’re having your morning coffee on your back deck, when a rare bald eagle emerges overhead. You intently marvel at her grace, beauty, and precision as she zips back and forth, almost dancing for your wanting eyes.
The bald eagle is a real world example of visual pursuits.
The purpose of your pursuit-based eye movements is to enable the clear vision of objects in your visual environment. This requires a continuous neurological communication system involving multiple regions of the brain. “Continuous” is the operative word here as the inability to keep the activity constant results in a slip of the image on your visual system.
Pursuits are designed to drive blood flow and oxygen into all four lobes of your brain through the activation of a multitude of neurological networks. Many of these networks are similar to horizontal pursuits with the exception of some higher brainstem targets (for those science buffs; rostral nucleus reticularis tegmenti pontis and y-group nucleus).
Reduced blood flow in these areas has been correlated with many physical and behavioral disorders and can potentially differentiate between moderate and severe levels of traumatic brain injury.
Pursuits are an amazing way to calm and prepare the mind to be able to better handle whatever situation life throws your way.
When Should I Do Pursuits?
We recommend Pursuits in the morning as a way to start your day. The drive in blood flow and oxygen is an amazing way to set the tone for what the rest of the day might bring your way.
Pursuits are one of our GO TO clinical strategies as a way to calm the brain and create better balance within the brain and spinal cord (CNS). Research has also shown that pursuits etc can reduce stress or anxiety levels.
How Often and Long Should I Do Pursuits?
To see optimal benefits, we recommend doing Pursuits at least once a day for at least 2-4 weeks. Start off slow and try it a few times per week and gradually increase from there.
If you need an extra moment for yourself, you can do pursuits as you see fit.
In an ideal world, pursuits become a part of your regular routine and something you practice for time to come.
Pursuits in Clinic
Once you can move and follow a target, you want the ability to keep your eyes on that target for as long as necessary. This is necessary despite a phenomenon known as “visual fade” where your visual system habituates to persistent stimuli and goes searching for new stimuli.
This is amazing to witness in a clinic; for example you take a military personnel Sniper, and watch as they practice Pursuits. They have the natural ability to wonderfully inhibit the visual fade response and activate specific neural integrators to keep their eyes locked on a target.
Source: Frontiers in Neuro Aging - Cerebral Blood Flow and Cognitive Functioning in a Community-Based, Multi-Ethnic Cohort: The SABRE Study