Disruption of binocular vision during the critical period for development leads to eye misalignment in humans and in monkey models. We have previously suggested that disruption within a vergence circuit could be the neural basis for strabismus. Electrical stimulation in the rostral superior colliculus (rSC) leads to vergence eye movements in normal monkeys. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of SC stimulation on eye misalignment in strabismic monkeys. Electrical stimulation was delivered to 51 sites in the intermediate and deep layers of the SC (400 Hz, 0.5-s duration, 10–40 μA) in 3 adult optical prism-reared strabismic monkeys. Scleral search coils were used to measure movements of both eyes during a fixation task. Staircase saccades with horizontal and vertical components were elicited by stimulation as predicted from the SC topographic map. Electrical stimulation also resulted in significant changes in horizontal strabismus angle, i.e., a shift toward exotropia/esotropia depending on stimulation site. Electrically evoked saccade vector amplitude in the two eyes was not significantly different (P > 0.05; paired t-test) but saccade direction differed. However, saccade disconjugacy accounted for only ~50% of the change in horizontal misalignment while disconjugate postsaccadic movements accounted for the other ~50% of the change in misalignment due to electrical stimulation. In summary, our data suggest that electrical stimulation of the SC of strabismic monkeys produces a change in horizontal eye alignment that is due to a combination of disconjugate saccadic eye movements and disconjugate postsaccadic movements.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY Electrical stimulation of the superior colliculus in strabismic monkeys results in a change in eye misalignment. These data support the notion of developmental disruption of vergence circuits leading to maintenance of eye misalignment in strabismus.
- nonhuman primate
- superior colliculus
- electrical stimulation
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