The oculomotor system is arguably the best understood motor control system due to the combined efforts of scientists in numerous subspecialties who have studied its complex mechanisms. Traditionally, oculomotor researchers have investigated each oculomotor subsystems in isolation, and from a specific technical view point (e.g. neurophysiology), but recently has there been a push to pursue an integrated approach to the system, and to explore how the oculomotor system integrates with systems controlling the head, body and even arms. Moreover, the field has begun to utilize approaches developed to study eye movements as a tool to understand CNS decision making processes. In 2005, we held the first oculomotor Gordon Research Conference (GRC) ever, entitled Oculomotor System Biology. The success of the first meeting resulted in another sponsorship by the GRC in 2007. The emphasis of the 2007 meeting was on the extraocular periphery, integration of oculomotor and vestibular subsystems, cognitive processes, and neuroethology. This conference was extremely productive, providing a forum for dealing with controversial issues in the field, and engendering new collaborations amongst the participants. We hope to capture this same spirit with a third oculomotor Gordon Conference: Eye Movements: The Motor System that Sees the World in 2011. This meeting's themes will include: 1. Eye Movements as a Probe for Attention, Perception, and Decision Making Mechanisms, in which the speaker's will explore how the oculomotor system is now used as a tool to explore the mechanism by which visual sensory information is utilized in the decision making process;2. The Action between Eye Movements, which will explore the characteristics and control mechanisms for the little studied field of microsaccades;3. Central and Peripheral Oculomotor Subsystems in Health and Disease, which will evaluate new findings about the role of peripheral sensory and motor processes in controlling eye orientation, as well as the actions of lower and upper motoneurons within the context of diseases like strabismus;4. Motor Learning, Calibration, Plasticity, and Reward in the Oculomotor System, in which the roles of the cerebellum and basal ganglia in adjusting the performance of, and reinforcing oculomotor behaviors will be explored;and 5. Novel Approaches for Understanding Oculomotor Circuits, which will range from studies using slice preparations and genetic modifications, to studies utilizing non-traditional animal models. Thus, this proposal requests support for a conference, whose objective is to bring together scientists and physicians to take a fresh look at how the diverse components of the oculomotor system interact, and to stimulate increased interdisciplinary research. With the support of NIH we will bring together ideas and investigators that rarely inhabit the same venue in an effort to advance the field in new directions.
Disorders of eye movement systems include strabismus, nystagmus and internuclear ophthalmoplegia. Moreover, oculomotor responses are disturbed in many motor control diseases (Parkinson's, torticollis), sensory syndromes (vertigo), and as a consequence of cognitive deficits (spatial neglect). Other disorders, such as congenital fibrosis, can alter the mechanical properties of the extraocular muscle itself. Consequently, energizing and directing integrated, cutting edge research on how the oculomotor system functions in health and disease, which is the primary goal of this meeting, Eye Movements: The Motor System that Sees the World, is of immense relevance to public health.