Using Saccadometry with Deep Brain Stimulation to Study Normal and Pathological Brain Function.
Antoniades CA., FitzGerald JJ.
The oculomotor system involves a large number of brain areas including parts of the basal ganglia, and various neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's and Huntington's can disrupt it. People with Parkinson's disease, for example, tend to have increased saccadic latencies. Consequently, the quantitative measurement of saccadic eye movements has received considerable attention as a potential biomarker for neurodegenerative conditions. A lot more can be learned about the brain in both health and disease by observing what happens to eye movements when the function of specific brain areas is perturbed. Deep brain stimulation is a surgical intervention used for the management of a range of neurological conditions including Parkinson's disease, in which stimulating electrodes are placed in specific brain areas including several sites in the basal ganglia. Eye movement measurements can then be made with the stimulator systems both off and on and the results compared. With suitable experimental design, this approach can be used to study the pathophysiology of the disease being treated, the mechanism by which DBS exerts it beneficial effects, and even aspects of normal neurophysiology.