Proprioceptive and retinal afference modify postsaccadic ocular drift

Richard F. Lewis, David S. Zee, Herschel P. Goldstein, Barton L. Guthrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drift of the eyes after saccades produces motion of images on the retina (retinal slip) that degrades visual acuity. In this study, we examined the contributions of proprioceptive and retinal afference to the suppression of postsaccadic drift induced by a unilateral ocular muscle paresis. Eye movements were recorded in three rhesus monkeys with a unilateral weakness of one vertical extraocular muscle before and after proprioceptive deafferentation of the paretic eye. Postsaccadic drift was examined in four visual states: monocular viewing with the normal eye (4-wk period); binocular viewing (2-wk period); binocular viewing with a disparity-reducing prism (2- wk period); and monocular viewing with the paretic eye (2-wk period). The muscle paresis produced vertical postsaccadic drift in the paretic eye, and this drift was suppressed in the binocular viewing condition even when the animals could not fuse. When the animals viewed binocularly with a disparity- reducing prism, the drift in the paretic eye was suppressed in two monkeys (with superior oblique pareses) but generally was enhanced in one animal (with a tenotomy of the inferior rectus). When drift movements were enhanced, they reduced the retinal disparity that was present at the end of the saccade. In the paretic-eye-viewing condition, postsaccadic drift was suppressed in the paretic eye and was induced in the normal eye. After deafferentation in the normal-eye-viewing state, there was a change in the vertical postsaccadic drift of the paretic eye. This change in drift was idiosyncratic and variably affected the amplitude and velocity of the postsaccadic drift movements of the paretic eye. Deafferentation of the paretic eye did not affect the postsaccadic drift of the normal eye nor did it impair visually mediated adaptation of postsaccadic drift. The results demonstrate several new findings concerning the roles of visual and proprioceptive afference in the control of postsaccadic drift: disconjugate adaptation of postsaccadic drift does not require binocular fusion; slow, postsaccadic drift movements that reduce retinal disparity but concurrently increase retinal snip can be induced in the binocular viewing state; postsaccadic drift is modified by proprioception from the extraocular muscles, but these modifications do not serve to minimize retinal slip or to correct errors in saccade amplitude; and visually mediated adaptation of postsaccadic drift does not require proprioceptive afference from the paretic eye.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-563
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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