Neurophysiology of Vergence and Accommodation

  • Stuart J. Judge
Part of the Perspectives in Vision Research book series (PIVR)


Although much is known about the behavior of accommodation and vergence from studies of human performance (reviewed by Alpern, 1969; Schor and Ciuffreda, 1983;Toates, 1972), comparatively little is known about the neural pathways and mechanisms that support the behavior (Mays, 1983). Our main interest has been in studying these neural mechanisms by means of single-unit recording in awake trained monkeys (Macaca mulatto), but we have also carried out purely behavioral studies of accommodation and vergence behavior in the monkey, partly to test to what extent monkey behavior is similar to that of humans and partly to attempt to clarify issues not completely resolved in the human literature. The results of these behavioral experiments are described first and then followed by the results of our own and others’ neurophysiological experiments. Finally some consideration is given to open questions for future research.


Firing Rate Conflict Task Binocular Viewing Monocular Viewing VISUOMOTOR Adaptation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alpern, M., 1969, Types of eye movement, in: The Eye, Vol. 3, 2nd ed. (H. Davson, ed.), Academic Press, New York, pp. 65–174.Google Scholar
  2. Andersen, R. A., 1987, The role of the inferior parietal lobule in spatial perception and visual-motor integration, in: The Handbook of Physiology, Section 1: The Nervous System, Volume V, Higher Functions of the Brain, Part 2 (F. Plum, V. B. Mountcastle, and S. R. Geiger, eds.), American Physiological Society, pp. 483–518.Google Scholar
  3. Bando, T., Tsukuda, K., Yamamoto, N., Maeda, J., and Tsukahara, N., 1984a, Physiological identification of midbrain neurons related to lens accommodation in cats, J. Neurophysiol. 52:870–878.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bando, T., Yamamoto, N., and Tsukahara, N., 1984b, Cortical neurons related to lens accommodation in posterior lateral suprasylvian area in cats, J. Neurophysiol. 52:879–891.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Barlow, H. B., Blakemore, C., and Pettigrew, J. D., 1967, The neural mechanism of binocular depth discrimination, J. Physiol. (Lond.) 193:327–342.Google Scholar
  6. Beverley, K. I., and Regan, D., 1973, Evidence for the existence of neural mechanisms selectively sensitive to the direction of motion in space. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 235:17–29.Google Scholar
  7. Büettner-Ennever, J. A., and Akert, K., 1981, Medial rectus subgroups of the oculomotor nucleus and their abducens internuclear input in the monkey, J. Comp. Neurol. 197:17–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cowey, A., 1985, Disturbances of stereopsis by brain damage, in: Brain Mechanisms and Spatial Vision (D. J. Ingle, M. Jeannerod, and D. N. Lee, eds.), Nato ASI Series, Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, pp. 259–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cowey, A., Smith, B., and Butter, C. M., 1984, Effects of damage to superior colliculi and pre-tectum on movement discrimination in rhesus monkeys, Exp. Brain Res. 56:79–91.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Cumming, B. G., 1985, The Neural Control of Convergence Eye Movements and Accommodation, unpublished D.Phil, thesis, University of Oxford.Google Scholar
  11. Cumming, B. G., and Judge, S. J., 1986, Disparity-induced and blur-induced convergence eye movement and accommodation in the monkey, J. Neurophysiol. 55:896–914.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Cynader, M., and Regan, D., 1978, Neurons in cat parastriate cortex sensitive to the direction of motion in three dimensional space, J. Physiol. (Lond.) 274:549–569.Google Scholar
  13. Enright, J. T., 1987, Perspective vergence: Oculomotor responses to line drawings, Vision Res. 27:1513–1526.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Erkelens, C. J., and Regan, D., 1986, Human ocular vergence movements induced by changing size and disparity, J. Physiol. (Lond.) 379:145–169.Google Scholar
  15. Erkelens, C. J., Van der Steen, J., Steinman, R. M., and Collewijn, H., 1989a, Ocular vergence under natural conditions. I. Continuous changes of target distance along the median plane, Proc. R. Soc. Lond. [Biol.] 236:417–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Erkelens, C. J., Steinman, R. M., and Collewijn, H., 1989b, Ocular vergence under natural conditions. II. Gaze shifts between real targets differing in distance and direction, Proc. R. Soc. Lond. [Biol.] 236:441–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Felleman, D. J., and Van Essen, D. C., 1987, Receptive field properties of neurons in area V3 of macaque monkey extrastriate cortex, J. Neurophysiol. 57:889–920.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Fincham, E. F., and Walton, J., 1957, The reciprocal actions of accommodation and vergence, J. Physiol. (Lond.) 137:488–508.Google Scholar
  19. Flitcroft, D. I., 1988, Sensory Control of Ocular Accommodation, unpublished D.Phil, thesis, University of Oxford.Google Scholar
  20. Flitcroft, D. I., and Judge, S. J., 1988, The effect of stimulus chromaticity on ocular accommodation in the monkey, J. Physiol. (Lond.) 398:36P.Google Scholar
  21. Flitcroft, D. I., and Judge, S. J., 1989, Binocular interaction between stimuli to accommodation, studied in man and the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatto), J. Physiol. (Lond.) 413:37P.Google Scholar
  22. Gamlin, P. D. R., and Mays, L. E., 1986, Medial rectus motoneurons carry a vergence velocity signal in addition to a vergence position signal, Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 12(1):460.Google Scholar
  23. Gamlin, P. D. R., Zhang, Y., and Mays, L. E., 1989, Behavior of identified Edinger-Westphal neurons during ocular accommodation, Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 15(1):241.Google Scholar
  24. Hosoba, M., Bando, T., and Tsukahara, N., 1978, The cerebellar control of accommodation of the eye in the cat, Brain Res. 153:495–505.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Hubel, D. H., and Livingstone, M. S., 1987, Segregation of form, color, and stereopsis in primate area 18, J. Neurosci. 7:3378–3415.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Jampel, R. S., 1960, Convergence, divergence, pupillary reactions and accommodation of the eyes from faradic stimulation of the macaque brain, J. Comp. Neurol. 115:371–399.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Judge, S. J., 1987, Optically-induced changes in tonic vergence and AC/A ratio in normal monkeys and monkeys with lesions of the flocculus and ventral paraflocculus, Exp. Brain Res. 66:1–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Judge, S. J., and Cumming, B. G., 1986, Neurons in the monkey midbrain with activity related to vergence eye movement and accommodation, J. Neurophysiol. 55:915–930.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Keller, E. L., 1973, Accommodative vergence in the alert monkey. Motor unit analysis, Vision Res. 13:1565–1575.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Keller, E. L., and Robinson, D. A., 1972, Abducens unit behaviour in the monkey during vergence eye movements, Vision Res. 12:369–382.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Komatsu, H., and Wurtz, R. H., 1988a, Relation of cortical areas MT and MST to pursuit eye movements. I. Localization and visual properties of neurons, J. Neurophysiol. 60:580–603.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Komatsu, H., and Wurtz, R. H., 1988b, Relation of cortical areas MT and MST to pursuit eye movements. III. Interaction with full-field visual stimulation, J. Neurophysiol. 60:621–644.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Komatsu, H., Roy, J. P., and Wurtz, R. H., 1988, Binocular disparity sensitivity of cells in area MST of the monkey, Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 14(1):202.Google Scholar
  34. Kruger, P. B., and Pola, J., 1986, Stimuli for accommodation: blur, chromatic aberration and size, Vision Res. 26:957–971.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Kruger, P. B., and Pola, J., 1987, Dioptric and non-dioptric stimuli for accommodation: target size alone and with blur and chromatic aberration, Vision Res. 27:555–567.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Lawler, K. A., 1981, Aspects of Spatial Vision after Brain Damage, unpublished D.Phil Thesis, University of Oxford.Google Scholar
  37. Livingstone, M. S., and Hubel, D. H., 1987, Psychophysical evidence for separate channels for the perception of form, color, movement and depth, J. Neurosci. 7:3416–3468.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Luebke, A. E., and Hain, T. C., 1988, Phoria adaptation in patients with cerebellar dysfunction, Invest. Ophthalmol. Suppl. 29:137.Google Scholar
  39. Mays, L. E., 1983, Neurophysiological correlates of vergence eye movements, in: Vergence Eye Movements: Basic and Clinical Aspects (C. M. Schor and K. J. Ciuffreda, eds.), Butterworths, Boston, pp. 647–670.Google Scholar
  40. Mays, L. E., 1984, Neural control of vergence eye movements: Convergence and divergence neurons in midbrain, J. Neurophysiol. 51:1091–1108.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Mays, L. E., and Porter, J. D., 1984, Neural control of vergence eye movements: activity of abducens and oculomotor neurons, J. Neurophysiol. 52:743–761.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Mays, L. E., Porter, J. D., Gamlin, P. D. R., and Tello, C. A., 1986, Neural control of vergence movements: Neurons encoding vergence velocity, J. Neurophysiol. 56:1007–1021.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. McLin, L. N., Schor, C. M., and Kruger, P. B., 1988, Changing size (looming) as a stimulus of accommodation and vergence, Vision Res. 28:883–898.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Milder, D. G., and Reinecke, R. D., 1983, Phoria adaptation to prisms, Arch. Neurol. 49:339–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Miles, F. A., Fuller, J. H., Braitman, D. J., and Dow, B. M., 1980, Long-term adaptive changes in primate vestibuloocular reflex. III. Electrophysiological observations in flocculus of normal monkeys, J. Neurophysiol. 43:1437–1476.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Morley, J. W., Lindsey, J. W., and Judge, S. J., 1986, Changes in activity of brainstem near-response neurons induced by prism-adaptation, Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 12(1):9.460.Google Scholar
  47. Morley, J. W., Lindsey, J. W., and Judge, S. J., 1988, Prism adaptation in a strabismic monkey, Clin. Vis. Sci. 3:1–8.Google Scholar
  48. Newsome, W. T., Wurtz, R. H., and Komatsu, H., 1988, Relation of cortical areas MT and MST to pursuit eye movements. II. Differentiation of retinal from extraretinal inputs, J. Neurophysiol. 60:604–620.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Pettigrew, J. D., Nikara, T., and Bishop, P. O., 1968, Binocular interaction on single units in cat striate cortex: Simultaneous stimulation by single moving slits with receptive fields in correspondence, Exp. Brain Res. 6:391–410.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Poggio, G. F., and Talbot, W. H., 1981, Mechanisms of static and dynamic stereopsis in foveal cortex of the rhesus monkey, J. Physiol. (Lond.) 315:469–492.Google Scholar
  51. Poggio, G. F., Gonzalez, F., and Krause, F., 1988, Stereoscopic mechanisms in monkey visual cortex: Binocular correlation and disparity selectivity, J. Neurosci. 8:4531–4550.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Rashbass, C., and Westheimer, G., 1961, Disjunctive eye movements, J. Physiol. (Lond.) 159:339–360.Google Scholar
  53. Robinson, D. A., 1981, Control of eye movements, in: Handbook of Physiology, The Nervous System, Section 1, Vol. 2 (J. M. Brookhart and V. B. Mountcastle, section eds.; V. B. Brooks, volume ed.), American Physiological Society, Bethesda, pp. 1275–1320.Google Scholar
  54. Sakata, H., Shibutani, H., and Kawano, K., 1980, Spatial properties of visual fixation neurons in posterior parietal association cortex of the monkey, J. Neurophysiol. 43:1654–1672.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Sakata, H., Shibutani, H., and Kawano, K., 1983, Functional properties of visual tracking neurons in posterior parietal cortex of the monkey, J. Neurophysiol. 49:1364–1380.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Schiller, P. H., 1970, The discharge characteristics of single units in the oculomotor and abducens nuclei of the unanaesthetized monkey, Exp. Brain Res. 10:347–362.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Schor, C.M., 1979, The relationship between fusional vergence eye movements and fixation disparity, Vision Res. 19:1359–1367.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Schor, C. M., and Ciuffreda, K. J., 1983, Vergence Eye Movements: Basic and Clinical Aspects, Butterworths, Boston.Google Scholar
  59. Schor, C.M., and Kotulak, J. C., 1986, Dynamic interactions between accommodation and convergence are velocity sensitive, Vision Res. 26:927–942.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Skavenski, A. S., and Robinson, D. A., 1973, Role of abducens neurons in vestibuloocular reflex, J. Neurophysiol. 36:724–738.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Tello, C. A., and Mays, L. E., 1984, Activity of mesencephallic convergence eyes during vergence adaptation. Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 10(2):988.Google Scholar
  62. Toates, F. M., 1972, Accommodation function of the human eye, Physiol. Rev. 52:828–863.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Tucker, J., and Charman, W. N., 1979, Reaction and response times for accommodation, Am. J. Optom. Physiol. Opt. 56:490–503.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Westheimer, G., and Blair, S. M., 1973, The parasympathetic pathways to the internal eye muscles, Invest. Ophthalmol. 12:193–197.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Westheimer, G., and Mitchell, D. E., 1969, The sensory stimulus for disjunctive eye movements, Vision Res. 9:749–755.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Wilson, D., 1973, A centre for accommodative vergence motor control, Vision Res. 13:2491–2503.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Zeki, S. M., 1974, Cells responding to changing image size and disparity in cortex of the rhesus monkey, J. Physiol. (Lond.) 242:827–841.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart J. Judge
    • 1
  1. 1.University Laboratory of PhysiologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordGreat Britain

Personalised recommendations