Ocular motor myotonic phenomenon in myotonic dystrophy

M. Versino, B. Rossi, G. Beltrami, G. Sandrini, V. Cosi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To detect disconjugate ocular motor abnormalities and a possible extraocular muscle myotonic phenomenon in patients with myotonic dystrophy (MyD). Methods: The magnetic scleral search coil technique was used to record monocularly the small (25°) and large (50°) saccades, which were paced to two interstimulus intervals (ISIs), one short (1 s), the other long (5 s). The case study comprised 20 patients with MyD, 10 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), and 10 controls. The amplitude, duration, peak velocity, and skewness of the velocity profile (ratio between the acceleration and the deceleration periods) of each saccade were measured. The disconjugate parameters (difference between the two eyes of the same measure), and the myotonic parameter (the maximal (as absolute value) short-long ISI difference between the same measures) were considered. Results: The disconjugate parameters were the same in all three groups. The mean values of myotonic parameters found in patients with MyD for duration (for both small and large target displacements) and skewness (for small target displacements only) differed from those found for both the MS and the control groups. Additionally, the occurrence of individual patients presenting with abnormal duration and skewness parameters was higher in the MyD than in the MS group. In patients with MyD, the saccade duration was longer for long than for short ISI; the effect derived from a prolongation of the acceleration period, which manifested as an increase in skewness. Conclusion: The results can be explained by a combination of the myotonic and the warm up phenomena. A delay in the relaxation (myotonia) of the extraocular muscle may be more evident after a long fixation period (long ISI) and it may improve by increasing saccade pacing (short ISI-warm up). This phenomenon is slight, and is unlikely to affect saccade performance significantly, but it may provide some insight into the nature of the disorder affecting extraocular and skeletal muscles in myotonic dystrophy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-240
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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