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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Characterizing interactions between oculomotor and postural control systems with saccadic eye movements Reiter, Emma Rosalie


Oculomotor control is an important component of visual interaction with the external environment; it determines where gaze is directed and what visual information is taken in. While visual input supplies important sensory information for the maintenance of postural stability, movements of the eyes also interact with the control of posture both with and without visual input. Extraretinal sources of information and neuroanatomical connections between oculomotor and postural control regions likely support these interactions; however, the relationship and its supporting mechanisms require further investigation. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis was to utilize saccadic eye movements to further explore and characterize interactions between oculomotor and postural control. The first aim of this thesis was to understand how postural control interacts with repeated eye movements over time. A visual stimulus cued saccades in both predictable and unpredictable patterns, and outcomes were compared to quiet standing. Kinetic, kinematic, and electrophysiological outcomes were impacted to different degrees during saccade performance. To address the remaining aims of the thesis, simple and choice reaction time saccade paradigms were created with visual stimuli. The second aim was to report saccade characteristics during quiet standing; findings demonstrated an effect of standing postures compared to past literature and seated postures. The third aim was to explore and characterize short latency changes in postural control outcomes. Outcomes were time-locked to saccade onset and averaged over all saccades; this analysis revealed consistent short latency kinetic and kinematic postural responses, accompanied by changes in muscle activity and small electrodermal responses. Overall, the findings from this thesis contribute to growing evidence of interactions between postural and oculomotor control and provide a novel characterization of postural responses.

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