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Vestibuloocular reflex inhibition and gaze saccade control characteristics during eye-head orientation in humans.

1. In natural conditions, gaze (i.e., eye + head) orientation is a complex behavior involving simultaneously the eye and head motor systems. Thus one of the key problems of gaze control is whether or not the vestibuloocular reflex (VOR) elicited by head rotation and saccadic eye movement linearly add. 2. Kinematics of human gaze saccades within the oculomotor range (OMR) were quantified under different conditions of head motion. Saccades were visually triggered while the head was fixed or passively moving at a constant velocity (200 deg/s) either in the same direction as, or opposite to, the saccade. Active eye-head coordination was also studied in a session in which subjects were trained to actively rotate their head at a nearly constant velocity during the saccade and, in another session, during natural gaze responses. 3. When the head was passively rotated toward the visual target, both maximum and mean gaze velocities increased with respect to control responses with the head fixed; these effects increased with gaze saccade amplitude. In addition, saccade duration was reduced so that corresponding gaze accuracy, although poorer than for control responses, was not dramatically affected by head motion. 4. The same effects on gaze velocity were present during active head motion when a constant head velocity was maintained throughout saccade duration, and gaze saccades were as accurate as with the head fixed. 5. During natural gaze responses, an increased gaze velocity and a decreased saccade duration with respect to control responses became significant only for gaze displacement larger than 30 degrees, due to the negligible contribution of head motion for smaller responses. 6. When the head was passively rotated in the opposite direction to target step, gaze saccades were slower than those obtained with the head fixed; but their average accuracy was still maintained. 7. These results confirm a VOR inhibition during saccadic eye movements within the OMR. This inhibition, present in all 16 subjects studied, ranged from 40 to 96% (for a 40 degree target step) between subjects and increased almost linearly with target step amplitude. Furthermore, the systematic difference between instantaneous VOR gain estimated at the time of maximum gaze velocity and mean VOR gain estimated over the whole saccadic duration indicates a decay of VOR inhibition during the ongoing saccade. 8. A simplified model is proposed with a varying VOR inhibition during the saccade. It suggests that VOR inhibition is not directly controlled by the saccadic pulse generator.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Pubmed ID: 3367207 RIS Download

Mesh terms: Adolescent | Adult | Eye Movements | Female | Head | Humans | Male | Middle Aged | Motion | Ocular Physiological Phenomena | Orientation | Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular | Rotation | Saccades

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