A stretch reflex in extraocular muscles of species purportedly lacking muscle spindles

Numa Dancause, Michael D. Taylor, Erik J. Plautz, Jeffery D. Radel, Thomas Whittaker, Randolph J. Nudo, Anatol G. Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


It is generally assumed that proprioceptive feedback plays a crucial role in limb posture and movement. However, the role of afferent signals from extraocular muscles (EOM) in the control of eye movement has been a matter of continuous debate. These muscles have atypical sensory receptors in several species and it has been proposed that they are not supported by stretch reflexes. We recorded electromyographic activity of EOM during passive rotations of the eye in sedated rats and squirrel monkeys and observed typical stretch reflexes in these muscles. Results suggest that there is a similarity in the reflexive control of limb and eye movement, despite substantial differences in their biomechanics and sensory receptors. Like in some limb skeletal muscles, the stretch reflex in EOM in the investigated species might be mediated by other length-sensitive receptors, rather than muscle spindles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-21
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007



  • Electromyogram
  • Eye movement
  • Motor control
  • Proprioception
  • Sensorimotor integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Dancause, N., Taylor, M. D., Plautz, E. J., Radel, J. D., Whittaker, T., Nudo, R. J., & Feldman, A. G. (2007). A stretch reflex in extraocular muscles of species purportedly lacking muscle spindles. Experimental Brain Research, 180(1), 15-21. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-006-0833-8