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. 2016 Jun 13;7:90.
doi: 10.3389/fneur.2016.00090. eCollection 2016.

Degradation of Binocular Coordination During Sleep Deprivation

Free PMC article

Degradation of Binocular Coordination During Sleep Deprivation

Jianliang Tong et al. Front Neurol. .
Free PMC article


To aid a clear and unified visual perception while tracking a moving target, both eyes must be coordinated, so the image of the target falls on approximately corresponding areas of the fovea of each eye. The movements of the two eyes are decoupled during sleep, suggesting a role of arousal in regulating binocular coordination. While the absence of visual input during sleep may also contribute to binocular decoupling, sleepiness is a state of reduced arousal that still allows for visual input, providing a context within which the role of arousal in binocular coordination can be studied. We examined the effects of sleep deprivation on binocular coordination using a test paradigm that we previously showed to be sensitive to sleep deprivation. We quantified binocular coordination with the SD of the distance between left and right gaze positions on the screen. We also quantified the stability of conjugate gaze on the target, i.e., gaze-target synchronization, with the SD of the distance between the binocular average gaze and the target. Sleep deprivation degraded the stability of both binocular coordination and gaze-target synchronization, but between these two forms of gaze control the horizontal and vertical components were affected differently, suggesting that disconjugate and conjugate eye movements are under different regulation of attentional arousal. The prominent association found between sleep deprivation and degradation of binocular coordination in the horizontal direction may be used for a fit-for-duty assessment.

Keywords: alertness; attention; fatigue; ocular pursuit; screening.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Effects of sleep deprivation on circular visual tracking performance of a typical subject (033). Left column: baseline performance (Time 1). Right column: performance at 26 h of sleep deprivation (Time 3). Shown are excerpts from the last two cycles of the first six-cycle trial of the respective recording session.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Changes in binocular coordination and gaze–target synchronization during the course of sleep deprivation. (A) SDHDC, (B) SDVDC, (C) SDHC, and (D) SDVC. Box plots are shown with individual scores. The upper and lower hinges of each box represent the 75th and 25th percentiles, respectively. The horizontal inside the box represents the median of the scores. The upper and lower whiskers extend to the maximum and minimum of 1.5 times the interquartile range. *p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ***p < 0.001, pairwise comparison of outcomes at different time points against the null hypothesis that outcomes were no different.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Receiver operating characteristic of the effects of sleep deprivation on the binocular coordination and gaze–target synchronization in the horizontal and vertical directions. The analysis was based on the results at Time 1 and Time 3. The area under each curve is shown.

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