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Paper in Vision Research

  • Ooi, D., Cornell, E.D., Curthoys, I.S., Burgess, A.M. and MacDougall, H.G. (2004) Convergence reduces ocular counterroll (OCR) during static roll-tilt. Vision Research, 44: 2825-2833


    When humans are roll-tilted around the naso-occipital axis, both eyes roll or tort in the opposite direction to roll-tilt, a phenomenon known as ocular counterroll (OCR). While the magnitude of OCR is primarily determined by vestibular, somatosensory, and proprioceptive input, direction of gaze also plays a major role. The aim of this study was to measure the interaction between some of these factors in the control of OCR. Videooculography was used to measure 3D eye position during maintained whole body (en bloc) static roll-tilt in darkness, while subjects fixated first on a distant (at 130 cm) and then a near (at 30 cm) head-fixed target aligned with the subject's midline. We found that while converging on the near target, human subjects displayed a significant reduction in OCR for both directions of roll-tilt - i.e. the interaction between OCR and vergence was not simple addition or subtraction of torsion induced by vergence with torsion induced by roll-tilt. To remove the possibility that the OCR reduction may be associated with the changed horizontal position of the eye in the orbit during symmetric convergence, we ran an experiment using asymmetric convergence in which the distant and near targets were aligned directly in front of one eye. We found the magnitude of OCR in this asymmetric convergence case was also reduced for near viewing by about the same amount as in the symmetric vergence condition, confirming that the convergence command rather than horizontal position of the eye underlies the OCR reduction, since there was no horizontal movement of the aligned eye in the orbit between fixation on the distant and near targets. Increasing vergence from 130 to 30 cm reduced OCR gain by around 35% on average. That reduction was equal in both eyes and occurred in both the symmetric and asymmetric convergence conditions. These results demonstrate the important role vergence plays in determining ocular counterroll during roll-tilt and may support the contention that vergence acts to reduce the conflict facing a stereopsis-generating mechanism.