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J Exp Biol. 2002 May;205(Pt 9):1241-52.

Independent and conjugate eye movements during optokinesis in teleost fish.

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Vision, Touch and Hearing Research Centre, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia.


In response to movements involving a large part of the visual field, the eyes of vertebrates typically show an optokinetic nystagmus, a response in which both eyes are tightly yoked. Using a comparative approach, this study sets out to establish whether fish with independent spontaneous eye movements show independent optokinetic nystagmus in each eye. Two fish with independent spontaneous eye movements, the pipefish Corythoichthyes intestinalis and the sandlance Limnichthyes fasciatus were compared with the butterflyfish Chaetodon rainfordi, which exhibits tightly yoked eye movements. In the butterflyfish a single whole-field stimulus elicits conjugate optokinesis, whereas the sandlance and pipefish show asynchronous optokinetic movements. In a split drum experiment, when both eyes were stimulated in opposite directions with different speeds, both the sandlance and the pipefish compensated independently with each eye. The optokinetic response in the butterflyfish showed some disconjugacy but was generally confused. When one eye was occluded, the seeing eye was capable of driving the occluded eye in both the butterflyfish and the pipefish but not in the sandlance. Monocular occlusion therefore unmasks a link between the two eyes in the pipefish, which is overridden when both eyes receive visual input. The sandlance never showed any correlation between the eyes during optokinesis in all stimulus conditions. This suggests that there are different levels of linkage between the two eyes in the oculomotor system of teleosts, depending on the visual input.

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