Dysfunctional mode switching between fixation and saccades: collaborative insights into two unusual clinical disorders

Janet C. Rucker, John Ross Rizzo, Todd E. Hudson, Anja K.E. Horn, Jean A. Buettner-Ennever, R. John Leigh, Lance M. Optican

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Voluntary rapid eye movements (saccades) redirect the fovea toward objects of visual interest. The saccadic system can be considered as a dual-mode system: in one mode the eye is fixating, in the other it is making a saccade. In this review, we consider two examples of dysfunctional saccades, interrupted saccades in late-onset Tay-Sachs disease and gaze-position dependent opsoclonus after concussion, which fail to properly shift between fixation and saccade modes. Insights and benefits gained from bi-directional collaborative exchange between clinical and basic scientists are emphasized. In the case of interrupted saccades, existing mathematical models were sufficiently detailed to provide support for the cause of interrupted saccades. In the case of gaze-position dependent opsoclonus, existing models could not explain the behavior, but further development provided a reasonable hypothesis for the mechanism underlying the behavior. Collaboration between clinical and basic science is a rich source of progress for developing biologically plausible models and understanding neurological disease. Approaching a clinical problem with a specific hypothesis (model) in mind often prompts new experimental tests and provides insights into basic mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-293
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Computational Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Concussion
  • Eye position-dependence
  • Late-onset Tay Sachs
  • Opsoclonus
  • Saccade termination


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