An investigation of the pressaccidic spike potential

  • Henry R. Doig

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A large negative spike potential, which is closely related to the onset of saccadic eyemovements, can be recorded from electrodes adjacent to the orbits. This potential, thepresaccadic spike potential, has often been regarded as an artefact related to eyemovement recordings and little work has been performed to establish its normal waveformand parameters. A positive spike potential, exactly coincident with the frontal negativespike, has also been recorded from electrodes positioned over the posterior scalp andthere has been some debate regarding any possible relationship between the twopotentials. The frontal spike potential has been associated with motor unit activity in theextraocular muscles prior to the saccade. This thesis investigates both the large anteriorand smaller posterior spike potentials and relates these recordings to the saccadic eyemovements associated with them.
The anterior spike potential has been recorded from normal subjects to ascertain its normallatency and amplitude parameters for both horizontal and vertical saccades. A relationshipbetween saccade size and spike potential amplitude is described, the spike potentialamplitude reducing with smaller saccades. The potential amplitude also reduces withadvancing age. Studying the topographical distribution of the spike potential across thescalp shows the posterior spike activity may arise from potential spread of the larger frontalspike potential.
Spike potential recordings from subjects with anomalous eye movements further implicate the extraocular muscles and their innervation in the generation of the spike potential. These recordings indicate that the spike potential may have some use as a clinical recording from patients with disease conditions affecting either their extraocular muscles or the innervational pathways to these muscles. Further recordings of the potential are necessary, however, to determine the exact nature of the changes which may occur with such conditions.
Date of AwardAug 1990
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorL. Jones (Supervisor) & Graham F.A. Harding (Supervisor)


  • pressaccidic spike potentials
  • saccades
  • extraocular muscles
  • ocular motoneurons
  • electrooculography

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