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Adjustment of saccade characteristics during head movements

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Saccade characteristics have been studied during coordinated eyehead movements in monkeys. Amplitude, duration, and peak velocity of saccades with head turning were compared with saccades executed while the head was artificially restrained. The results indicate that the saccade characteristics are modulated as a function of head movement, hence the gaze movement (eye+head) exactly matches saccades with head fixed. Saccade modulation is achieved by way of negative vestibulo-ocular feedback. The neck proprioceptors, because of their longer latency, are effective only if the head starts moving prior to the onset of saccade. It is concluded that saccades made with head turning are not “ballistic” movements because their trajectory is not entirely predetermined by a central command.

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Morasso, P., Bizzi, E. & Dichgans, J. Adjustment of saccade characteristics during head movements. Exp Brain Res 16, 492–500 (1973).

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