We evaluated the subcortical pathways’ contribution to human adults’ horizontal OKN by using a method similar to that used previously with cats (Harris & Smith, 1990; Smith & Harris, 1991). Five normal adults viewed plaids composed of two drifting sinusoidal gratings arranged such that their individual directions of drift were 60 deg or more from the direction of coherent motion of the overall pattern. Physiological evidence indicates that under monocular viewing, nasalward coherent motion gives advantage to any crossed subcortical contribution while temporalward coherent motion minimizes it. We recorded horizontal eye movement by infrared reflection and asked subjects to report the perceived direction of motion.
During both binocular and monocular viewing, the direction of the slow phase of OKN fell closer to the direction of coherent movement than to that of the oriented components. Monocular viewing produced no nasal-temporal asymmetries in the influence of coherent motion on the direction of OKN. This suggests that in humans the influence of coherent motion is mediated primarily by cortical mechanisms and, unlike in cats, with little or no involvement of subcortical mechanisms in the generation of horizontal OKN.