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Keywords:

  • accommodation;
  • eye movements;
  • FEF;
  • PET;
  • visual cortex;
  • visual imagery

Abstract

The purpose of this work is to identify human neural circuits involved in inhibition of accommodation/vergence by contrasting the cortical functions subservient to negative voluntary accommodation/vergence (NVA) with those evoked by active fixation in darkness (FIX). Five subjects with normal corrected acuity were studied using positron emission tomography and the Hinline imageO bolus technique. The dominant right eye viewed a laser speckle pattern (633 nm) whose direction and velocity of motion were determined by the refractive state of the eye. The speckle pattern was presented at a distance of 1.8 m (0.55 D). The non-dominant eye was patched. Subjects performed two tasks counterbalanced for order effects: (i) attempted fixation on the remembered target in darkness with the dominant eye open and ‘fixating’; and (ii) voluntary reduction of the laser speckle flow during each alternate 20-s epoch when a convex +2.0 D lens was placed in front of the right eye causing the speckle pattern to move downwards at 3 °/s. Comparison of the condition of NVA with the condition of FIX indicated widespread occipital activation. Decreases in absolute regional cerebral blood flow occurred in the superior parietal cortex (BA 5), frontal cortex (BA 8 and 10) and within the postcentral/precentral gyrus (BA 1/2/3/4) bilaterally where deactivation clusters eclipsed the presumed neck and shoulder areas. Negative accommodation/vergence appears to be driven by a reduction of parasympathetic tone, and has the effect of shutting down brain regions known to be involved in regulating visual search as well as a centrally controlled eye–head–neck–shoulder motor programme responsible for posturing gaze.