Rapid eye movements include saccades and quick phases of nystagmus and may have components around all three axes of ocular rotation: horizontal, vertical, and torsional. In this study, we recorded horizontal, vertical, and torsional eye movements in normal subjects with their heads upright and stationary. We asked how the eyes are brought back to Listing's plane after they are displaced from it. We found that torsional offsets, induced with a rotating optokinetic disk oriented perpendicular to the subject's straight ahead, were corrected during both horizontal and vertical voluntary saccades. Thus three-dimensional errors are synchronously reduced during saccades. The speed of the torsional correction was much faster than could be accounted for by passive mechanical forces. During vertical saccades, the peak torsional velocity decreased and the time of peak torsional velocity was delayed, as the amplitude of vertical saccades increased. In contrast, there was no consistent reduction of torsional velocity or change in time of peak torsional velocity with an increase in the amplitude of horizontal saccades. These findings suggest that 1) the correction of stimulus-induced torsion is neurally commanded and 2) there is cross-coupling between the torsional and vertical but not between the torsional and horizontal saccade generating systems. This latter dichotomy may reflect the fact that vertical and torsional rapid eye movements are generated by common premotor circuits located in the rostral interstitial nucleus of the medial longitudinal fasciculus (riMLF). When horizontal or vertical saccade duration was relatively short, the torsional offset was not completely corrected during the primary saccade, indicating that although the saccade itself is three- dimensional, saccade duration is determined by the error in the horizontal or the vertical, but not by the error in the torsional component.
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