The geometry of gaze stabilization during head translation requires eye movements to scale proportionally to the inverse of target distance. Such a scaling has indeed been demonstrated to exist for the translational vestibuloocular reflex (TVOR), as well as optic flow-selective translational visuomotor reflexes (e.g., ocular following, OFR). The similarities in this scaling by a neural estimate of target distance for both the TVOR and the OFR have been interpreted to suggest that the two reflexes share common premotor processing. Because the neural substrates of OFR are partly shared by those for the generation of pursuit eye movements, we wanted to know if the site of gain modulation for TVOR and OFR is also part of a major pathway for pursuit. Thus, in the present studies, we investigated in rhesus monkeys whether initial eye velocity and acceleration during the openloop portion of step ramp pursuit scales with target distance. Specifically, with visual motion identical on the retina during tracking at different distances (12, 24, and 60 cm), we compared the first 80 ms of horizontal pursuit. We report that initial eye velocity and acceleration exhibits either no or a very small dependence on vergence angle that is at least an order of magnitude less than the corresponding dependence of the TVOR and OFR. The results suggest that the neural substrates for motor scaling by target distance remain largely distinct from the main pathway for pursuit.
ASJC Scopus subject areas