This study provides the first clear evidence that the generation of optokinetic nystagmus fast phases is a decision process that is influenced by performance of a concurrent disjunctive reaction time task (DRT). Ten subjects performed an auditory DRT during constant velocity optokinetic stimulation. Eye movements were measured in three dimensions with a magnetic search coil. Slow phase (SP) durations were defined as the interval between fast phases (FPs). There were three main findings. Firstly, human optokinetic nystagmus SP durations are consistent with a model of a Gaussian basic interval generator (a type of biological clock), such that FPs can be triggered randomly at the end of a clock cycle (mean duration: 200-250 ms); Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests could not reject the modeled cumulative distribution for any data trials. Secondly, the FP need not be triggered at the end of a clock cycle, so that individual SP durations represent single or multiple clock cycles. Thirdly, the probability of generating a FP at the end of each interval generator cycle decreases significantly during performance of a DRT. These findings indicate that the alternation between SPs and FPs of optokinetic nystagmus is not purely reflexive. Rather, the triggering of the next FP is postponed more frequently if a recently presented DRT trial is pending action when the timing cycle expires. Hence, optokinetic nystagmus FPs show dual-task interference in a manner usually attributed to voluntary movements, including saccades.
- Eye Movements
- optokinetic nystagmus
- Slow Phase Duration
- Interval timing
- Copyright © 2016, Journal of Neurophysiology