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      Fixational eye movements and binocular vision

      microsaccades, drift, disparity, fixation, ocular, amblyopia

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          Abstract

          During attempted visual fixation, small involuntary eye movements–called fixational eye movements–continuously change of our gaze’s position. Disagreement between the left and right eye positions during such motions can produce diplopia (double vision). Thus, the ability to properly coordinate the two eyes during gaze fixation is critical for stable perception. For the last 50 years, researchers have studied the binocular characteristics of fixational eye movements. Here we review classical and recent studies on the binocular coordination (i.e., degree of conjugacy) of each fixational eye movement type: microsaccades, drift and tremor, and its perceptual contribution to increasing or reducing binocular disparity. We also discuss how amblyopia and other visual pathologies affect the binocular coordination of fixational eye movements.

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          Most cited references 73

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          Microsaccades are triggered by low retinal image slip.

          Even during visual fixation of a stationary target, our eyes perform rather erratic miniature movements, which represent a random walk. These "fixational" eye movements counteract perceptual fading, a consequence of fast adaptation of the retinal receptor systems to constant input. The most important contribution to fixational eye movements is produced by microsaccades; however, a specific function of microsaccades only recently has been found. Here we show that the occurrence of microsaccades is correlated with low retinal image slip approximately 200 ms before microsaccade onset. This result suggests that microsaccades are triggered dynamically, in contrast to the current view that microsaccades are randomly distributed in time characterized by their rate-of-occurrence of 1 to 2 per second. As a result of the dynamic triggering mechanism, individual microsaccade rate can be predicted by the fractal dimension of trajectories. Finally, we propose a minimal computational model for the dynamic triggering of microsaccades.
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            Amblyopia and binocular vision.

             Gary Birch (2013)
            Amblyopia is the most common cause of monocular visual loss in children, affecting 1.3%-3.6% of children. Current treatments are effective in reducing the visual acuity deficit but many amblyopic individuals are left with residual visual acuity deficits, ocular motor abnormalities, deficient fine motor skills, and risk for recurrent amblyopia. Using a combination of psychophysical, electrophysiological, imaging, risk factor analysis, and fine motor skill assessment, the primary role of binocular dysfunction in the genesis of amblyopia and the constellation of visual and motor deficits that accompany the visual acuity deficit has been identified. These findings motivated us to evaluate a new, binocular approach to amblyopia treatment with the goals of reducing or eliminating residual and recurrent amblyopia and of improving the deficient ocular motor function and fine motor skills that accompany amblyopia. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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              A neural mechanism for microsaccade generation in the primate superior colliculus.

              During fixation, the eyes are not still but often exhibit microsaccadic movements. The function of microsaccades is controversial, largely because the neural mechanisms responsible for their generation are unknown. Here, we show that the superior colliculus (SC), a retinotopically organized structure involved in voluntary-saccade target selection, plays a causal role in microsaccade generation. Neurons in the foveal portion of the SC increase their activity before and during microsaccades with sizes of only a few minutes of arc and exhibit selectivity for the direction and amplitude of these movements. Reversible inactivation of these neurons significantly reduces microsaccade rate without otherwise compromising fixation. These results, coupled with computational modeling of SC activity, demonstrate that microsaccades are controlled by the SC and explain the link between microsaccades and visual attention.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                4083562
                10.3389/fnint.2014.00052

                http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

                Neurosciences

                microsaccades, drift, disparity, fixation, ocular, amblyopia

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