BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Optokinetic eye movements are elicited when tracking a moving pattern. It can be argued that a moving pattern of stripes invokes both the optokinetic and the smooth pursuit eye movement system, which may confound the observed brain activation patterns using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). A moving pattern of limited-lifetime-dot stimulation does not target the smooth pursuit eye movement system. METHODS: fMRI was used to compare the cortical activity elicited by an optokinetic eye movement response evoked by a moving pattern of stripes and a moving pattern of limited lifetime dots. RESULTS: The eye movement behavior showed that both types of stimuli evoked an adequate and similar optokinetic eye movement response, but stimulation with stripes evoked more activation in the frontal and parietal eye fields, MT/V5, and in the cerebellar area VI than stimulation with limited-lifetime dots. CONCLUSIONS: These brain areas are implicated in smooth pursuit eye movements. Our results suggest that indeed both the optokinetic and the smooth pursuit eye movement system are involved in tracking a moving pattern of stripes.

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Journal of Neuroimaging
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Schraa-Tam, C., van der Lugt, A., Smits, M., Frens, M., van Broekhoven, F., & van der Geest, J. (2008). fMRI of optokinetic eye movements with and without a contribution of smooth pursuit. Journal of Neuroimaging, 18(2), 158–167. doi:10.1111/j.1552-6569.2007.00204.x