The oculomotor plant and its role in three-dimensional eye orientation

Dora E. Angelaki

in The Oxford Handbook of Eye Movements

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199539789
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 The oculomotor plant and its role in three-dimensional eye orientation

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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Following years of controversy, a combined approach consisting of both single unit recordings from cyclovertical extraocular motoneurons and electrical microstimulation of the abducens nerve have shown that, for visually-guided eye movements, motoneuron commands balance out to appear two-dimensional (2D; i.e. horizontal/vertical). These studies have also shown that the mechanical properties of the eyeball (perhaps mediated by extraocular muscle pulleys) provide for an eye position-dependent muscle pulling direction, thus accounting for the ‘half-angle rule’, a property of three-dimensional (3D) eye rotations necessary to keep the eyes in Listing’s plane during visually-guided eye movements. Yet, how eye movements that do not follow Listing’s law (e.g. the rotational vestibulo-ocular reflex, VOR) use an eye plant that implements the half-angle rule remains a challenge for future studies.

Keywords: extraocular motoneurons; oculomotor field; saccadic eye movements; half-angle rule; three-dimensional eye movements

Article.  8282 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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