Test–Retest Reliability of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Activation for a Vergence Eye Movement Task

  • Cristian Morales
  • Suril Gohel
  • Xiaobo Li
  • Mitchell Scheiman
  • Bharat B. Biswal
  • Elio M. Santos
  • Chang Yaramothu
  • Tara L. AlvarezEmail author
Original Article


Vergence eye movements are the inward and outward rotation of the eyes responsible for binocular coordination. While studies have mapped and investigated the neural substrates of vergence, it is not well understood whether vergence eye movements evoke the blood oxygen level-dependent signal reliably in separate experimental visits. The test–retest reliability of stimulus-induced vergence eye movement tasks during a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment is important for future randomized clinical trials (RCTs). In this study, we established region of interest (ROI) masks for the vergence neural circuit. Twenty-seven binocularly normal young adults participated in two functional imaging sessions measured on different days on the same 3T Siemens scanner. The fMRI experiments used a block design of sustained visual fixation and rest blocks interleaved between task blocks that stimulated eight or four vergence eye movements. The test–retest reliability of task-activation was assessed using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), and that of spatial extent was assessed using the Dice coefficient. Functional activation during the vergence eye movement task of eight movements compared to rest was repeatable within the primary visual cortex (ICC = 0.8), parietal eye fields (ICC = 0.6), supplementary eye field (ICC = 0.5), frontal eye fields (ICC = 0.5), and oculomotor vermis (ICC = 0.6). The results demonstrate significant test–retest reliability in the ROIs of the vergence neural substrates for functional activation magnitude and spatial extent using the stimulus protocol of a task block stimulating eight vergence eye movements compared to sustained fixation. These ROIs can be used in future longitudinal RCTs to study patient populations with vergence dysfunctions.


Vergence eye movement Test–retest reliability Functional MRI Vergence region of interest masks 



This work was supported by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD, USA (NEI R01EY023261 to TLA).

Conflict of interest

All authors claim that there are no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

12264_2019_455_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (480 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 481 kb)


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Copyright information

© Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biomedical EngineeringNew Jersey Institute of TechnologyNewarkUSA
  2. 2.Pennsylvania College of OptometrySalus UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health InformaticsRutgers University School of Health ProfessionsNewarkUSA

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