OBJECTIVES: Abnormalities and disturbances of saccadic and pursuit eye movements were studied in several mental disorders and diseases. Certain irregularities in the particular oculomotor behaviour have been proposed they may correspond with specific type of mental disorder. It was our aim to contribute to this question by analyzing the bioelectrical correlates of the visual-oculomotor integration in patients suffering from panic disorder and from depressive symptoms.
METHODS: The horizontal saccadic eye movements, optokinetic nystagmus, saccadic eye movement evoked potentials as well as saccadic eye movement related potentials we recorded in the groups of outpatients suffering from depressive symptoms and panic disorder respectively. Groups of healthy volunteers served as control.
RESULTS: Saccadic eye movements were found to be significantly more inaccurate as compared to healthy subjects. The gain of the optokinetic nystagmus at middle and high velocities was significantly lower in panic patients. Preparation of motor plan for a saccade as well as the time of the maximal recruitment of the oculomotor muscle units was delayed in both groups of patients and their oculomotor event-related potentials were of the overall longer duration and higher variability as well.
CONCLUSION: The changes in oculomotor behavior as well as in its EEG correlates in the groups of above mentioned patients can not be taken as specific for the given disorder. On the other hand, they may help to follow up the course of the complex therapy.