Retinal information is two-dimensional, whereas eye movements are three-dimensional. The oculomotor system solves this degrees-of-freedom problem by constraining eye positions to zero torsion (Listing's law) and determining how eye velocities change with eye position (half-angle rule). Here we test whether the oculomotor plant, in the absence of well-defined neural commands, can implement these constrains mechanically, not just in a primary position but for all eye and head orientations. We stimulated the abducens nerve at tertiary eye positions and when ocular counterroll was induced at tilted head orientations. Stimulation-induced eye velocities follow the half-angle rule, even for tertiary eye positions, and microstimulation at tilted head orientations elicits eye positions that adhere to torsionally shifted planes, similar to naturally occurring eye movements. These results support the notion that oculomotor plant can continuously apply these three-dimensional rules correctly and appropriately for all eye and head orientations that obey Listing's law, demonstrating a major role of peripheral biomechanics in motor control.
ASJC Scopus subject areas