The oculomotor system is arguably the best understood motor control system. Traditionally, oculomotor scientists studied each eye movement subsystem in isolation. Only recently have scientists turned their attention to more complex problems such as the neuronal control of combined vergence and saccadic eye movements or the neuronal control of combined saccadic and smooth pursuit eye movements. Advances in these areas are opening up new topics of inquiry to the field of oculomotor neuroscience such as target selection - how does the brain select a single visual stimulus to guide eye movements? Is the process of selection the same for different eye movement subsystems or is it a shared mechanism? Do binocular disparity signals provide a low-level target selection mechanism for saccades or pursuit? Questions such as these are generating much excitement in the field and are producing results that have implications for the fields of visual neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience and computational neuroscience. As such, our goal in this application is to provide the oculomotor science community a forum to present and hear about cutting-edge research and to interact in an intimate, informal yet scientifically rigorous setting. In 2005, we held the first oculomotor Gordon Research Conference (GRC) ever, titled Oculomotor System Biology. The success of the first meeting resulted in second, sponsored GRC in 2007. The third and so far, most successful oculomotor GRC occurred in 2011, titled Eye Movements: The Motor System that Sees the World. The topics included: Eye Movements as a Probe for Attention, Perception, and Decision Making Mechanisms, in which the speaker's explored how the oculomotor system is used as a read-out for perceptual decision-making;The Action between Eye Movements, which explored the characteristics and control mechanisms for microsaccades and Central and Peripheral Oculomotor Subsystems in Health and Disease, which evaluated new findings about the role of peripheral mechanisms in controlling eye orientation. In the meeting scheduled for 2013 we hope to capitalize on the excitement generated from the 2011 meeting and plan to explore topics such as: Rodent Models for Higher Order Oculomotor Control;In this session the recent surge in the use of small mammals that are easily manipulated genetically to explore cognition and eye movements will be the theme. Beyond Black Boxes - New Computational Approaches for Understanding Oculomotor Control;in this session the topic of applying mathematical models to the oculomotor system such as Bayesian inference will be explored. More than Pretty Pictures- Lessons Learned from Imaging the Oculomotor System;in this session, we will explore how the technique of fMRI and other imaging methods enhances our understanding of the neural circuits underlying eye movements. This proposal requests support for a conference whose objective is to bring together scientists and physicians to discuss recent work in the oculomotor system. We plan to bring together early-career and established investigators to propel forward novel research venues and collaborations.
Disorders of eye movements and their consequences lead to complications that range in severity from blindness and low vision to the inability to perform routine tasks such as reading or crossing the street. Understanding the central and peripheral mechanisms of how eye movements are generated and controlled holds the key to reducing the public health burden of these disorders. Our goal of holding a meeting for early- career and well-established investigators of the oculomotor and visual systems to discuss the scientific progress in the field will go a long way toward shedding light on eye movement and visual diseases and their symptoms.