Saccade control and eye-hand coordination in optic ataxia

Neuropsychologia. 2008 Jan 31;46(2):475-86. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.08.028. Epub 2007 Sep 14.


The aim of this work was to investigate ocular control in patients with optic ataxia (OA). Following a lesion in the posterior parietal cortex (PPC), these patients exhibit a deficit for fast visuo-motor control of reach-to-grasp movements. Here, we assessed the fast visuo-motor control of saccades as well as spontaneous eye-hand coordination in two bilateral OA patients and five neurologically intact controls in an ecological "look and point" paradigm. To test fast saccadic control, trials with unexpected target-jumps synchronised with saccade onset were randomly intermixed with stationary target trials. Results confirmed that control subjects achieved visual capture (foveation) of the displaced targets with the same timing as stationary targets (fast saccadic control) and began their hand movement systematically at the end of the primary saccade. In contrast, the two bilateral OA patients exhibited a delayed visual capture, especially of displaced targets, resulting from an impairment of fast saccadic control. They also exhibited a peculiar eye-hand coordination pattern, spontaneously delaying their hand movement onset until the execution of a final corrective saccade, which allowed target foveation. To test whether this pathological behaviour results from a delay in updating visual target location, we had subjects perform a second experiment in the same control subjects in which the target-jump was synchronised with saccade offset. With less time for target location updating, the control subjects exhibited the same lack of fast saccadic control as the OA patients. We propose that OA corresponds to an impairment of fast updating of target location, therefore affecting both eye and hand movements.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Ataxia / complications
  • Ataxia / physiopathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Eye Diseases / complications
  • Eye Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Movement / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Perceptual Disorders / complications
  • Perceptual Disorders / physiopathology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Saccades / physiology*