Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computational Modeling & Simulation Engineering


Modeling and Simulation

Committee Director

Stacie I. Ringleb

Committee Member

Michel A. Audette

Committee Member

Lance M. Optican

Committee Member

Yiannis E. Papelis

Committee Member

Daniel M. Russell


“Keeping your eye on the ball” is a long-standing tenet in baseball batting. And yet, there are no protocols for objectively conditioning, measuring, and/or evaluating eye-on-ball coordination performance relative to baseball-pitch trajectories. Although video games and other virtual simulation technologies offer alternatives for training and obtaining objective measures, baseball batting instruction has relied on traditional eye-pitch coordination exercises with qualitative “face validation”, statistics of whole-task batting performance, and/or subjective batter-interrogation methods, rather than on direct, quantitative eye-movement performance evaluations. Further, protocols for validating transfer-of-training (ToT) for video games and other simulation-based training have not been established in general ― or for eye-movement training, specifically. An exploratory research study was conducted to consider the ecological and ToT validity of a part-task, virtual-fastball simulator implemented in 3D stereo along with a rotary pitching machine standing as proxy for the live-pitch referent. The virtual-fastball and live-pitch simulation couple was designed to facilitate objective eye-movement response measures to live and virtual stimuli. The objective measures 1) served to assess the ecological validity of virtual fastballs, 2) informed the characterization and comparison of eye-movement strategies employed by expert and novice batters, 3) enabled a treatment protocol relying on repurposed incremental-rehearsal and partial-occlusion methods intended to instigate and modulate strategic eye movements, and 4) revealed whether the simulation-based treatment resulted in positive (or negative) ToT in the real task. Results indicated that live fastballs consistently elicited different saccade onset time responses than virtual fastballs. Saccade onset times for live fastballs were consistent with catch-up saccades that follow the smooth-pursuit maximum velocity threshold of approximately 40-70˚/sec while saccade onset times for virtual fastballs lagged in the order of 13%. More experienced batters employed more deliberate and timely combinations of smooth pursuit and catch-up saccades than less experienced batters, enabling them to position their eye to meet the ball near the front edge of home plate. Smooth pursuit and saccade modulation from treatment was inconclusive from virtual-pitch pre- and post-treatment comparisons, but comparisons of live-pitch pre- and post-treatment indicate ToT improvements. Lagging saccade onset times from virtual-pitch suggest possible accommodative-vergence impairment due to accommodation-vergence conflict inherent to 3D stereo displays.





Included in

Engineering Commons