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M. Surendran, F. A. Proudlock, I. Gottlob; Development of Eye Head Coordination in Childhood When Performing Simple Visual Tasks. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2007;48(13):891.
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Head movements are unlikely for small gaze shifts but amplitude of head movement increases when saccadic amplitude increases. Younger children tend to move their head more than the older children and adults during gaze shifts. The primary purpose of this study is to investigate development of eye head coordination during saccadic, smooth pursuit and reading tasks in childhood. We also compared eye-head coordination in normal young adults.
Head and eye movements were recorded using an infrared pupil and head tracker in 43 children (22 female, 21 male), aged 5 to 16 years (mean age 11.6, SD ± 2.95) during saccadic (SC), smooth pursuit (SM) and reading (RD) tasks. All children had good visual acuity, stereo vision and no history of ophthalmological deficits. Simple linear regression was used to look for changes in head gain (head amplitude with respect to gaze amplitude) with age. These results were compared with adults’ head movements from our previous studies.
Head gain showed a significant decrease with age during all three tasks with the rate of change being 0.35, 0.20 & 0.4 log units per year during SC, SM and RD tasks, respectively. The change was more significant during reading (P=0.006) and pursuit (P=0.004) than for the saccadic task (P=0.06). We also found that the change was more significant during pursuit (P=0.02) than for reading or saccadic tasks (P=0.07 and P=0.50 respectively) when compared 13-16 years old children with young adults.
We found a significant decrease in use of head movements during saccadic, pursuit and reading tasks between the ages of 5 to 15. This may be related to development of frontal cortical function over these years.
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