Effects of visual distractors on vergence eye movements

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Visual attention is an important aspect of everyday life, which can be incorporated in the assessment of many diagnoses. Another important characteristic of visual attention is that it can be improved via therapeutic interventions. Fifteen subjects with normal binocular vision were presented with visual distractor stimuli at various spatial locations while initiating disparity vergence eye movements (inward or outward rotation of eyes) within a haploscope system. First, a stationary distractor stimulus was presented in either the far, middle, or near visual spaces while the subjects were instructed to follow a target stimulus that was either stationary, converging (moving toward subject), or diverging (moving away from subject). For the second experiment, a dynamic distractor stimulus within the far, middle, or near visual space that was converging or diverging was presented while the target stimulus was also converging or diverging. The subjects were instructed to visually follow the target stimulus and ignore the distractor stimulus. The vergence responses had a final vergence angle between the target and distractor stimuli which has been termed a center of gravity (CoG) effect. Statistically significant differences were observed between the convergence peak velocities (p < 0.001) and response amplitudes (p < 0.001) comparing responses without distractors to responses with the presence of a vergence distractor. The results support that vergence eye movements are influenced by visual distractors, which is similar to how distractors influence saccadic eye movements. The influence of visual distractors within vergence eye movements may be useful to assess binocular dysfunction and visual distraction which are common post brain injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


  • Center of gravity effect
  • Convergence
  • Distractors
  • Divergence
  • Eye movements
  • Vergence


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