J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 41:617-623 doi:10.1136/jnnp.41.7.617
  • Research Article

Incidence and characteristics of voluntary nystagmus.


A survey of a college age population revealed that 8% could produce voluntary nystagmus. Seventy-nine per cent of this sample had relatives who could also produce it. A systematic investigation of the characteristics of voluntary nystagmus under a number of stimulus conditions showed that it resembles pendular nystagmus in waveform, and certain ocular oscillations, such as ocular flutter and opsoclonus, in frequency. The results indicate that voluntary nystagmus can be differentiated from other forms of nystagmus by its frequency, duration, and occurrence in individuals whose neuro-ophthalmological examination is normal. Voluntary nystagmus probably involves the "hold" mechanism of the cerebellar nuclei because of its frequency correspondence to ocular oscillations which result from a dysfunction in this anatomical area.