Vergence deficits in patients with cerebellar lesions

T. Sander*, A. Sprenger, G. Neumann, B. Machner, S. Gottschalk, H. Rambold, C. Helmchen

*Corresponding author for this work
36 Citations (Scopus)


The cerebellum is part of the cortico-ponto-cerebellar circuit for conjugate eye movements. Recent animal data suggest an additional role of the cerebellum for the control of binocular alignment and disconjugate, i.e. vergence eye movements. The latter is separated into two different components: fast vergence (to step targets) and slow vergence (to ramp and sinusoidal targets). The aim of this study was to investigate whether circumscribed cerebellar lesions affect these dynamic vergence eye movements. Disconjugate fast and slow vergence, conjugate smooth pursuit and saccades were binocularly recorded by a scleral search coil system in 20 patients with acute cerebellar lesions (all ischemic strokes except for one) and 20 age-matched healthy controls. Patients showed impairment of slow vergence while fast vergence was unaffected. Slow vergence gain to sinusoidal targets was significantly reduced, both in convergence and divergence direction. Divergence but not convergence velocity to ramp targets was reduced. Conjugate smooth pursuit eye movements to sinusoidal and to step-ramp targets were impaired. Patients had saccadic hypometria. All defects were particularly expressed in patients with vermis lesions. In contrast to recent animal data fast vergence was not impaired in any of our patient subgroups. We conclude that (i) the human cerebellum, in particular the vermis, is involved in the processing of dynamic vergence eye movements and (ii) cerebellar lesions elicit dissociable effects on fast and slow vergence.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)103-115
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2009

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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