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Eye Proprioception Used for Visual Localization Only If in Conflict with the Oculomotor Plan

Author(s): D. Balslev, M. Himmelbach, H. O. Karnath, S. Borchers, B. Odoj

Both the corollary discharge of the oculomotor command and eye muscle proprioception provide eye position information to the brain. Two contradictory models have been suggested about how these two sources contribute to visual localization: (1) only the efference copy is used whereas proprioception is a slow recalibrator of the forward model, and (2) both signals are used together as a weighted average. We had the opportunity to test these hypotheses in a patient (R.W.) with a circumscribed lesion of the right postcentral gyrus that overlapped the human eye proprioceptive representation. R.W. was as accurate and precise as the control group (n = 19) in locating a lit LED that she viewed through the eye contralateral to the lesion. However, when the task was preceded by a brief (<1 s), gentle push to the closed eye, which perturbed eye position and stimulated eye proprioceptors in the absence of a motor command, R.W.'s accuracy significantly decreased compared with both her own baseline and the healthy control group. The data suggest that in normal conditions, eye proprioception is not used for visual localization. Eye proprioception is, however, continuously monitored to be incorporated into the eye position estimate when a mismatch with the efference copy of the motor command is detected. Our result thus supports the first model and, furthermore, identifies the limits for its operation.

Full version: Available here

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ISBN: 0270-6474
Publication Year: 2012
Periodical: Journal of Neuroscience
Periodical Number: 25
Volume: 32
Pages: 8569-8573
Author Address: Balslev, D Univ Tubingen, Hertie Inst Clin Brain Res, Ctr Neurol, Div Neuropsychol, Hoppe Seyler Str 3, D-72076 Tubingen, Germany Univ Tubingen, Hertie Inst Clin Brain Res, Ctr Neurol, Div Neuropsychol, D-72076 Tubingen, Germany Univ Copenhagen, Dept Psychol, DK-1353 Copenhagen, Denmark