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Mark M. G. Walton, Adam Pallus, Michael Mustari; A Rhesus Monkey With a Naturally Occurring Impairment of Disparity Vergence. II. Abnormal Near Response Cell Activity in the Supraoculomotor Area. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(5):1670-1676. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.18-26440.
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Convergence insufficiency is a very common disorder that can have significant adverse effects on school performance. When reading, children with this disorder often experience diplopia and headaches. We have recently obtained a rhesus monkey with a naturally occurring impairment of vergence eye movements. In the companion paper, we report behavioral testing that shows a pattern of impairments similar to what clinicians observe in human children with convergence insufficiency, including a receded near point, an exophoria that increases as target distance decreases, and difficulty maintaining an appropriate vergence angle when presented with a large field stimulus at near. For the present case report, we wondered whether these behavioral deficits would be associated with abnormal discharge patterns in brainstem neurons related to vergence eye movements.
Single unit activity was recorded from near and far response cells in the supraoculomotor area in the vergence-impaired monkey, while he performed a smooth vergence tracking task or fixated visual targets at different distances.
We found an abnormally weak sensitivity to both vergence angle and vergence velocity. Nonetheless, these neurons modulated in association with contextually inappropriate slow vergence movements that occurred in the absence of saccades but not for slow divergence drifts that immediately followed converging saccades. Modulation of activity was more robust when additional depth cues were available.
These data suggest that disorders affecting vergence eye movements may be associated with impoverished sensory input to the near and far response cells and, perhaps, aberrant tuning in vergence-related neurons.
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