Does orbital proprioception contribute to gaze stability during translation?
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Translational motion induces retinal image slip which varies with object distance. The brain must know binocular eye position in real time in order to scale eye movements so as to minimize retinal slip. Two potential sources of eye position information are orbital proprioception and an internal representation of eye position derived from central ocular motor signals. To examine the role of orbital proprioceptive information, the position of the left eye was perturbed by microstimulation of the left abducens nerve during translational motion to the right or left along the interaural axis in two rhesus macaques. Microstimulation rotated the eye laterally, activating eye muscle proprioceptors, while keeping central motor commands undisturbed. We found that microstimulation-induced eye position changes did not affect the translational VOR in the abductive (lateral rectus) direction, but it did influence the responses in the adductive (medial rectus) direction. Our findings demonstrate that proprioceptive inputs appear to be involved in the TVOR responses at least during ipsilateral head movements and proprioceptive influences on the TVOR may involve vergence-related signals to the oculomotor nucleus. However, internal representation of eye position, derived from central ocular motor signals, likely plays the dominant role in providing eye position information for scaling eye movements during translational motion, particularly in the abducent direction.
KeywordsEye movement Vestibulo-ocular reflex Proprioception Viewing distance Translational motion
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