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Br J Ophthalmol. 1976 September; 60(9): 652–654.
PMCID: PMC1042786

A study of head and eye movement in spasmus nutans.


A case of spasmus nutans was studied using objective recordings of head and eye displacement in order to generate a precise description of the ocular oscillations and head nodding and to investigate their interrelationships. The ocularoscillations consisted of 11-Hz sinusoidal convergence movements. The head nodding consisted of a 3-Hz, 3 degrees peak to peak, sinusoidal oscillation in the horizontal plane. The occurrence of the nodding always abolished the ocular oscillation which was replaced by normal compensatory eye movements which assisted visual acuity. The hypothesis is made that the head nodding is not pathological; it is a learned behavioural pattern which permits the patient to nullify the pathological eye movements. In order to test this hypothesis further, objective evidence is required to determine the precise order of appearance of the abnormal head and eye movements in spasmus nutans.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Benson AJ, Guedry FE., Jr Comparison of tracking-task performance and nystagmus during sinusoidal oscillation in yaw and pitch. Aerosp Med. 1971 Jun;42(6):593–601. [PubMed]
  • Fleming DG, Vossius GW, Bowman G, Johnson EL. Adaptive properties of the eye-tracking system as revealed by moving-head and open-loop studies. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1969 Apr 21;156(2):825–850. [PubMed]
  • Gresty MA. Coordination of head and eye movements to fixate continuous and intermittent targets. Vision Res. 1974 Jun;14(6):395–403. [PubMed]
  • NORTON EW, COGAN DG. Spasmus nutans; a clinical study of twenty cases followed two years or more since onset. AMA Arch Ophthalmol. 1954 Sep;52(3):442–446. [PubMed]
  • Wybar K. Disorders of ocular motility in brain stem lesions in children. Ann Ophthalmol. 1971 Jun;3(6):645–passim. [PubMed]

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