Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 457–466 | Cite as

Eye position and target amplitude effects on human visual saccadic latencies

  • James H. Fuller
Research Article


Gaze shifts vary in the extent of eye and head contribution; a large amplitude and/or an eccentric ocular orbital starting position alter the participation of head movement in the shift. The interval between eye onset and head onset determines compensatory counterrolling before and after the shift and the extent of vestibular ocular reflex reduction during the shift. The latency of eye saccades in the head-fixed condition was measured with respect to target amplitude and orbital position in order to establish base-line operations of these two variables as they apply to the headfree condition. Eye movements were measured during single-step saccades in nine young adult humans. The target step, hereafter called a jump, started from three possible fixation lights; e.g., rightward saccades started from the midline (0°) or from -20 or -40° left of the midline, with a maximum amplitude of 80°. The latency of saccades starting from the primary position increased with jump amplitude (amplitude-latency relation). When the eye started eccentrically, the latency was decreased (orbital position-latency relation), with the largest jump amplitudes most affected. These changes can be related to active eye-head coordination. Thus, with a leftward maximal orbital eccentricity, compensatory eye rotation would be impossible with a rightward head movement; however, incorporating the orbital position-latency relation, the forward ocular saccade is expedited by 90 ms. Conversely, with a primary starting position, the ocular component of an 80° gaze saccade could be slowed 125 ms by incorporating the amplitude-latency relation, thus facilitating a head contribution to the gaze shift. The orbital position and amplitude-latency relations were prominent in those subjects with habitually large head contributions to the gaze shift and minimal in individuals with typically small head contributions.

Key words

Eye-head coordination Reaction time Gaze Ocular Human 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • James H. Fuller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Oral AnatomyCollege of Dentistry, University of IllinoisChicagoUSA

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