Brainstem pathways and premotor control

Kathleen E. Cullen, Marion R. Van Horn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


The oculomotor system is one of the better understood motor systems. In contrast to locomotion-the control of posture or limb control-the structural features of the oculomotor system are mechanically simple. The oculomotor plant includes the eyeball, the extraocular muscles, and the surrounding orbital tissue. In particular, the eye has little inertia and rotates about a point that is relatively fixed such that there is only one 'joint' to consider. Moreover, there is no stretch reflex and activity in each of the three antagonistic muscles pairs is reciprocally related. As a result, a relatively simple relationship between motoneuron discharge and eye movements has facilitated our understanding of the central premotor circuitry that underlies the generation of oculomotor behaviours. In this chapter, the neural pathways that control eye movements are considered with a focus on the generation of appropriate motor commands at the level of the brainstem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Eye Movements
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191743665
ISBN (Print)9780199539789
StatePublished - Nov 21 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Brainstem
  • Extraocular muscle
  • Eye movement
  • Oculomotor system
  • Premotor pathways

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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