Test–Retest Reliability of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Activation for a Vergence Eye Movement Task

Cristian Morales1 • Suril Gohel3 • Xiaobo Li1 • Mitchell Scheiman2 • Bharat B. Biswal1 • Elio M. Santos1 • Chang Yaramothu1 • Tara L. Alvarez 1

1 Biomedical Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ 07102, USA

2 Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Salus University, Philadelphia, PA 19027, USA

3 Department of Health Informatics, Rutgers University School of Health Professions, Newark, NJ 07107, USA


Vergence eye movements are the inward and outward rotation of the eyes responsible for binocular coordination. While studies have mapped and investigated the neural substrates of vergence, it is not well understood whether vergence eye movements evoke the blood oxygen level-dependent signal reliably in separate experimental visits. The test–retest reliability of stimulus-induced vergence eye movement tasks during a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment is important for future randomized clinical trials (RCTs). In this study, we established region of interest (ROI) masks for the vergence neural circuit. Twenty-seven binocularly normal young adults participated in two functional imaging sessions measured on different days on the same 3T Siemens scanner. The fMRI experiments used a block design of sustained visual fixation and rest blocks interleaved between task blocks that stimulated eight or four vergence eye movements. The test–retest reliability of task-activation was assessed using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), and that of spatial extent was assessed using the Dice coefficient. Functional activation during the vergence eye movement task of eight movements compared to rest was repeatable within the primary visual cortex (ICC = 0.8), parietal eye fields (ICC = 0.6), supplementary eye field (ICC = 0.5), frontal eye fields (ICC = 0.5), and oculomotor vermis (ICC = 0.6). The results demonstrate significant test–retest reliability in the ROIs of the vergence neural substrates for functional activation magnitude and spatial extent using the stimulus protocol of a task block stimulating eight vergence eye movements compared to sustained fixation. These ROIs can be used in future longitudinal RCTs to study patient populations with vergence dysfunctions.


Vergence eye movement; Test–retest reliability; Functional MRI; Vergence region of interest masks


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