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      Foveation dynamics in congenital nystagmus. II: Smooth pursuit.

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          It has been shown that, during 5 seconds of fixation, an individual with congenital nystagmus (CN) can repeatedly (beat-to-beat) foveate (SD = 12.87 minarc) and maintain low retinal slip velocities (SD = 118.36 minarc/sec). Smooth pursuit data from several CN subjects showed that eye velocities during these foveation intervals approximated target velocity. Despite some claims that CN is caused by absent or "reversed" smooth pursuit, those with CN hardly ever experience oscillopsia or exhibit any accompanying symptoms of such deficits in pursuit; they are able to master sports requiring tracking of rapidly moving small objects (e.g. racquetball or handball). We developed and describe several new methods to accurately assess the function of smooth pursuit in an individual with typical idiopathic CN. We investigated the dynamics of CN foveation periods during smooth pursuit to test the hypothesis that eye velocities would match target velocities during these periods. Unity or near-unity instantaneous (beat-to-beat) pursuit gains of both experimenter-moved and subject-moved targets at peak velocities ranging from only a few deg/sec up to 210 degrees/sec were measured. The dynamic neutral zone was found to shift oppositely to target direction by amounts proportional to the increase in target speed. Our methods proved that eye velocity is made to match target velocity during the foveation intervals and support the conclusion that smooth pursuit in individuals with CN is functioning normally in the presence of the CN oscillation. In addition, we hypothesize that the same fixation mechanism that prevents oscillopsia during fixation of stationary targets, also does so during pursuit.

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          Doc Ophthalmol
          Documenta ophthalmologica. Advances in ophthalmology
          : 79
          : 1
          [1 ] Ocular Motor Neurophysiology Laboratory, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio.


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