Pendular Oscillation and Ocular Bobbing After Pontine Hemorrhage

Published in Cerebellum, on 2019


Tzu Pu Chang, Dan R Gold, Jorge Otero-Millan, Bor-Ren Huang & David S Zee


The pathophysiology of acute, vertical spontaneous eye movements following pontine hemorrhage is not well understood. Here, we present and discuss the video-oculography findings of a patient with acute pontine hemorrhage who developed vertical pendular oscillation and ocular bobbing while comatose. The amplitudes, peak velocities, frequency distribution, and phase planes (velocity versus position) of the eye movements were analyzed. The vertical pendular oscillation was rhythmic with a peak frequency of 1.7 Hz, but amplitudes (mean 1.9°, range 0.2-8.2°) and peak velocities (mean 20.6°/s; range 5.9-60.6°/sec) fluctuated. Overall, their peak velocities were asymmetric, faster with downward than upward. Higher peak velocities were seen with larger amplitudes (downward phase r = 0.95, p < 0.001; upward phase r = 0.91, p < 0.001) and with movements beginning at eye positions lower in the orbit (downward phase r = - 0.64, p < 0.001; upward phase r = - 0.86, p < 0.001). Interspersed were typical ocular bobbing waveforms with a fast (peak velocity 128.8°/s), large-amplitude (17.5°) downward movement, sometimes followed by a flat interphase interval (0.5 s) when the eye was nearly stationary, and then a slow return to mid-position with a decaying velocity waveform. To account for the presence and co-existence of pendular oscillations and bobbing, we present and discuss three hypothetical models, not necessarily mutually exclusive: (1) oscillations originating in the inferior olives due to disruption of the central tegmental tract(s); (2) unstable neural integrator function due to pontine cell group damage involving neurons involved in gaze-holding; (3) low-frequency saccadic intrusions following omnipause neuron damage.


Chang, Gold, Otero-Millan, Huang & Zee (2019) Pendular Oscillation and Ocular Bobbing After Pontine Hemorrhage. Cerebellum. 2019 Dec 27.

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