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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2004 October; 75(10): 1386–1394.
PMCID: PMC1738726

Abnormalities of optokinetic nystagmus in progressive supranuclear palsy


Objectives: To measure vertical and horizontal responses to optokinetic (OK) stimulation and investigate directional abnormalities of quick phases in progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).

Methods: Saccades and OK nystagmus were studied in six PSP patients, five with Parkinson's disease (PD), and 10 controls. The OK stimulus subtended 72° horizontally, 60° vertically, consisted of black and white stripes, and moved at 10–50°/s.

Results: All PSP patients showed slowed voluntary vertical saccades and nystagmus quick phases compared with PD or controls. Small, paired, horizontal saccadic intrusions (SWJ) were more frequent and larger in PSP during fixation. Vertical saccades were transiently faster at the time of SWJ and horizontal saccades in PSP. During vertical OK nystagmus, small quick phases were often combined with horizontal SWJ in all subjects; in PSP the vector was closer to horizontal. Vertical OK slow phase gain was reduced in PSP but, in most PD patients, was similar to normals. The average position of gaze shifted in the direction of vertical OK stimulus in PSP patients with preserved slow phase responses but impaired quick phases.

Conclusions: Vertical OK responses in PSP show impaired slow phase responses, and quick phases that are slowed and combined with SWJ to produce an oblique vector. SWJ facilitate vertical saccades and quick phases in PSP, but it is unclear whether this is an adaptive process or a result of the disease. A large OK stimulus is useful to induce responses that can be quantitatively analysed in patients with limited voluntary range of vertical gaze.

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