Motor systems often require that superfluous degrees of freedom be constrained. For the oculomotor system, a redundancy in the degrees of freedom occurs during visually guided eye movements and is solved by implementing Listing's law and the half-angle rule, kinematic constraints that limit the range of eye positions and angular velocities used by the eyes. These constraints have been attributed either to neurally generated commands or to the physical mechanics of the eye and its surrounding muscles and tissues (i.e., the ocular plant). To directly test whether the ocular plant implements the half-angle rule, critical to the maintenance of Listing's law, we microstimulated the abducens nerve with the eye at different initial vertical eye positions. We report that the electrically evoked eye velocity exhibits the same eye position dependence as seen in visually guided smooth-pursuit eye movements. These results support an important role for the ocular plant in providing a solution to the degrees-of-freedom problem during eye movements.
- Listing's law
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