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date: 17 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The oculomotor system is one of the better understood motor systems. In contrast to locomotion—the control of posture or limb control—the structural features of the oculomotor system are mechanically simple. The oculomotor plant includes the eyeball, the extraocular muscles, and the surrounding orbital tissue. In particular, the eye has little inertia and rotates about a point that is relatively fixed such that there is only one ‘joint’ to consider. Moreover, there is no stretch reflex and activity in each of the three antagonistic muscles pairs is reciprocally related. As a result, a relatively simple relationship between motoneuron discharge and eye movements has facilitated our understanding of the central premotor circuitry that underlies the generation of oculomotor behaviours. In this chapter, the neural pathways that control eye movements are considered with a focus on the generation of appropriate motor commands at the level of the brainstem.

Keywords: premotor pathways, oculomotor system, eye movement, brainstem, extraocular muscle

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