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Volition and automaticity in the interactions of optokinetic nystagmus, infantile nystagmus, saccades and smooth pursuit

Harrison, James J. 2014. Volition and automaticity in the interactions of optokinetic nystagmus, infantile nystagmus, saccades and smooth pursuit. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Volitional target-selecting eye movements, such as saccades or smooth pursuit, are frequently considered distinct and separate from automatic gaze-stabilising eye movements like optokinetic nystagmus or the vestibulo-ocular reflex. This difference is regularly mapped onto brain anatomy, with distinctions made between subcortical, automatic processes; and cortical, volitional ones. However gaze-stabilising and target-selecting eye movements must work together when a moving observer views natural scenes. Yet such co-ordination would not be possible if automatic and volitional actions are sharply divided. This thesis focuses upon interactions between gaze-stabilising and target-selecting eye movements, and how these interactions can aid our understanding of the relationship between automatic and volitional processes. For a saccade executed during optokinetic nystagmus to accurately land on target, it must compensate for the ongoing optokinetic movement. It was found that targeting saccades can partially compensate for concomitant optokinetic nystagmus. The degree of compensation during optokinetic nystagmus was indistinguishable from compensation due to voluntary smooth pursuit displacements. A subsequent experiment found that locations are similarly misperceived during optokinetic nystagmus and smooth pursuit. Furthermore, saccade end-points are subject to the same perceptual mislocalisations. The next experiment established that fast-phases of optokinetic nystagmus can act like competitive saccades and cause curvature in targeting saccades. Moreover, optokinetic nystagmus fast-phases are delayed by irrelevant visual distractors in the same way as saccades (the saccadic inhibition effect). Lastly, it was established that the fast-phases of Infantile Nystagmus Syndrome also show the saccadic inhibition effect. In conclusion, target-selecting and gaze-stabilising eye movements show substantial co-ordination. Furthermore these results demonstrate considerable commonalties between ‘automatic’ and ‘volitional’ eye movements. Such commonalities provide further evidence there is no sharp distinction between automatic and volitional processes. Instead it is likely there are substantial interconnections between automatic and volitional mechanisms, and volition has a graded influence upon behaviour.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Saccade, Smooth Pursuit, Optokinetic Nystagmus, OKN, Infantile Nystagmus, INS, Volition, Oculomotor, Perception, Vision, Superior Colliculus, Consciousness, Inhibition, Vestibulo-Ocular
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:38

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