Oculomotor control in asymptomatic and recently diagnosed individuals with the genetic marker for Huntington's disease

T. M. Blekher, R. D. Yee, S. C. Kirkwood, A. M. Hake, J. C. Stout, M. R. Weaver, T. M. Foroud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Scopus citations


We compared oculomotor control among individuals in the early stages of Huntington’s disease (HD), with that of individuals who are presymptomatic HD gene carriers (PSGC) and nongene carriers (NGC). The oculomotor testing paradigm included both traditional tests and a novel experimental procedure to assess visual scanning. Traditional tests elicited saccades, pursuit and optokinetic nystagmus (OKN). HD patients demonstrated marked delay in the initiation of volitional saccades (anti-saccade and memory-guided saccades), a reduced number of correct volitional saccades, reduced velocity of saccades, and a decreased OKN gain. We also studied visual scanning while the participants completed the Digit Symbol Subscale of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Survey-Revised (WAIS-R). The HD participants demonstrated an abnormal gaze strategy, which may be associated with attention and/or planning deficits.Differences between the PSGC and NGC groups were only observed for two measures: PSGC had a decreased number of memory-guided saccades and a subtle delay in the initiation of volitional saccades. Our results suggest that oculomotor measures are a sensitive biomarker in the early stage of HD and demonstrate that the combination of more traditional oculomotor tests with visual scanning tests is useful in the evaluation of visual performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2729-2736
Number of pages8
JournalVision Research
Issue number23
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004


  • Huntington disease
  • Optokinetic
  • Pursuit
  • Saccade
  • Visual scanning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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