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Positive or Negative Feedback of Optokinetic Signals: Degree of the Misrouted Optic Flow Determines System Dynamics of Human Ocular Motor Behavior

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2014
Author Chen Chien-Cheng , Bockisch Christopher J. , Olasagasti Itsaso , Weber Konrad P. , Straumann Dominik , Huang Melody Ying-Yu ,
Project Study of infantile nystagmus syndrome: development of the ocular motor system, disease mechanism and clinical applications
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science
Volume (Issue) 55(4)
Page(s) 2297 - 2306
Title of proceedings Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science
DOI 10.1167/iovs.13-12750


Purpose. The optokinetic system in healthy humans is a negative-feedback system that stabilizes gaze: slow-phase eye movements (i.e., the output signal) minimize retinal slip (i.e., the error signal). A positive-feedback optokinetic system may exist due to the misrouting of optic fibers. Previous studies have shown that, in a zebrafish mutant with a high degree of the misrouting, the optokinetic response (OKR) is reversed. As a result, slow-phase eye movements amplify retinal slip, forming a positive-feedback optokinetic loop. The positive-feedback optokinetic system cannot stabilize gaze, thus leading to spontaneous eye oscillations (SEOs). Because the misrouting in human patients (e.g., with a condition of albinism or achiasmia) is partial, both positive- and negative-feedback loops co-exist. How this co-existence affects human ocular motor behavior remains unclear. Methods. We presented a visual environment consisting of two stimuli in different parts of the visual field to healthy subjects. One mimicked positive-feedback optokinetic signals and the other preserved negative-feedback optokinetic signals. By changing the ratio and position of the visual field of these visual stimuli, various optic nerve misrouting patterns were simulated. Eye-movement responses to stationary and moving stimuli were measured and compared with computer simulations. The SEOs were correlated with the magnitude of the virtual positive-feedback optokinetic effect. Results. We found a correlation among the simulated misrouting, the corresponding OKR, and the SEOs in humans. The proportion of the simulated misrouting needed to be greater than 50% to reverse the OKR and at least greater than or equal to 70% to evoke SEOs. Once the SEOs were evoked, the magnitude positively correlated to the strength of the positive-feedback OKR. Conclusions. This study provides a mechanism of how the misrouting of optic fibers in humans could lead to SEOs, offering a possible explanation for a subtype of infantile nystagmus syndrome (INS).