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The Composition Of Central Programs Subserving Horizontal Eye Movements In Man

A. Feldman
Published 2004 · Psychology, Medicine

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A hypothesis is presented which describes, in biomechanical terms, the central programs underlying horizontal eye movements in man. It is suggested that eye movements are produced by means of programmed shifts of the so-called invariant muscle characteristics (static force vs angle ϕ of gaze). These shifts lead to a change of the equilibrium point resulting from the interaction of agnnist and antagonist muscles and, as a consequence, to movement and the attainment of a new position of gaze. A reciprocal or a coactivation command to agonist and antagonist muscles occurs when their characteristics shift with respect to the coordinate ϕ in the same or opposite directions, respectively. It is proposed that during pursuit and saccadic eye movements a supperposition of the both central commands occurs. During a saccade, the reciprocal command develops evenly up to a certain level. The initial and final levels of the reciprocal command dictate the respective position of gaze and therefore the size of the saccade. The coactivation command develops to a maximum level and is slowly switched off when the new position of gaze has been achieved. The magnitude of the coactivation command seems to be not connected with an absolute position of gaze. It provides probably a stability of the movement and, in particular, prevents overshoot and oscillation during the saccade. The same timing of these commands occurs during pursuit movements, but the magnitude of the coactivation command and the rates of the development of the both commands are less in this case and correlate with the velocity of the movement. This hypothesis enables the tension changes in the muscle during saccadic and pursuit movements to be simulated in qualitative accordance with unique experimental data obtained by Collins et al. (1975). The functional significance of superposition of these motor commands and similarity in the efferent organization of eye and limb movements are discussed.
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