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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Neurological Disorders - Neuroscience - Ophthalmology - Physiology

The Effect of Sensory Uncertainty Due to Amblyopia (Lazy Eye) on the Planning and Execution of Visually-Guided 3D Reaching Movements
Published: Friday, February 17, 2012
Author: Ewa Niechwiej-Szwedo et al.

by Ewa Niechwiej-Szwedo, Herbert C. Goltz, Manokaraananthan Chandrakumar, Agnes M. F. Wong

Background

Impairment of spatiotemporal visual processing in amblyopia has been studied extensively, but its effects on visuomotor tasks have rarely been examined. Here, we investigate how visual deficits in amblyopia affect motor planning and online control of visually-guided, unconstrained reaching movements.

Methods

Thirteen patients with mild amblyopia, 13 with severe amblyopia and 13 visually-normal participants were recruited. Participants reached and touched a visual target during binocular and monocular viewing. Motor planning was assessed by examining spatial variability of the trajectory at 50–100 ms after movement onset. Online control was assessed by examining the endpoint variability and by calculating the coefficient of determination (R2) which correlates the spatial position of the limb during the movement to endpoint position.

Results

Patients with amblyopia had reduced precision of the motor plan in all viewing conditions as evidenced by increased variability of the reach early in the trajectory. Endpoint precision was comparable between patients with mild amblyopia and control participants. Patients with severe amblyopia had reduced endpoint precision along azimuth and elevation during amblyopic eye viewing only, and along the depth axis in all viewing conditions. In addition, they had significantly higher R2 values at 70% of movement time along the elevation and depth axes during amblyopic eye viewing.

Conclusion

Sensory uncertainty due to amblyopia leads to reduced precision of the motor plan. The ability to implement online corrections depends on the severity of the visual deficit, viewing condition, and the axis of the reaching movement. Patients with mild amblyopia used online control effectively to compensate for the reduced precision of the motor plan. In contrast, patients with severe amblyopia were not able to use online control as effectively to amend the limb trajectory especially along the depth axis, which could be due to their abnormal stereopsis.

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