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Prog Brain Res. 2008;171:323-30. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(08)00647-X.

Oblique gaze shifts: head movements reveal new aspects of component coupling.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA.


When the head is prevented from moving, it has been clearly demonstrated that the horizontal and vertical components of oblique saccades are not independently produced. The duration of the smaller of the two components is stretched in time to match the duration of the larger component. Several hypotheses have been proposed and each can account for the observed interaction between horizontal and vertical saccade components. When the head is free to move, gaze shifts can be accomplished by combining eye and head movements. During repeated gaze shifts of the same amplitude, as head contribution increases, saccade amplitude declines but saccade duration increases. Thus, the expected relationship between duration and amplitude of saccadic eye movements can be reversed. We have used this altered relationship to determine whether the duration of the vertical saccade component is affected by the amplitude or the duration of the horizontal component. We find that the relative amplitudes of horizontal and vertical saccades cannot account for the observed temporal stretching: vertical component duration increases despite a decrease in the amplitude of the horizontal component. These results are likely inconsistent with models that rely on calculating the vector or relative component amplitudes to account for component stretching.

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