Effects of cerebellar disease on sequences of rapid eye movements

Susan King, Athena L. Chen, Anand Joshi, Alessandro Serra, R. John Leigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Studying saccades can illuminate the more complex decision-making processes required for everyday movements. The double-step task, in which a target jumps to two successive locations before the subject has time to react, has proven a powerful research tool to investigate the brain's ability to program sequential responses. We asked how patients with a range of cerebellar disorders responded to the double-step task, specifically, whether the initial saccadic response made to a target is affected by the appearance of a second target jump. We also sought to determine whether cerebellar patients were able to make corrective saccades towards the remembered second target location if it were turned off soon after presentation. We tested saccades to randomly interleaved single- and double-step target jumps to eight locations on a circle. Patient's initial responses to double-step stimuli showed 50% more error than saccades to single target jumps, and often, they failed to make a saccade to the first target jump. The presence of a second target jump had similar, but smaller effects in control subjects (error increased by 18%). During memory-guided double-step trials, both patients and controls made corrective saccades in darkness to the remembered location of the second jump. We conclude that in cerebellar patients, the second target jump interferes with programming of the saccade to the first target jump of a double-step stimulus; this defect highlights patients' impaired ability to respond appropriately to sudden, conflicting changes in their environment. Conversely, since cerebellar patients can make corrective memory-guided saccades in darkness, they retain the ability to remember spatial locations, possibly due to non-retinal neural signals (corollary discharge) from cerebral hemispheric areas concerned with spatial localization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1064-1074
Number of pages11
JournalVision Research
Volume51
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - May 11 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cerebellum
  • Double step
  • Dysmetria
  • Efference copy
  • Fastigial nucleus
  • Saccades

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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