Object. Evoked potentials elicited by electrical stimulation of the oculomotor nerve and recorded from surface electrodes placed on the skin around the eyeball reportedly originate in the eye and are represented on electrooculograms. Because evoked potentials recorded from surface electrodes are extremely similar to those of extraocular muscles, which are represented on electromyograms, the authors investigated the true origin of these potentials.
Methods. Evoked potentials elicited by electrical stimulation of the canine oculomotor nerve were recorded from surface electrodes placed on the skin around the eyeball. A thread sutured to the center of the cornea was pulled and the potentials that were evoked during the resultant eye movement were recorded. These potentials were confirmed to originate in the eye and to be represented on electrooculograms because their waveforms were unaffected by the administration of muscle relaxant. To eliminate the influence of this source, the retina, a main origin of standing potentials of the eyeball, was removed. This resulted in the disappearance of electrooculography (EOG) waves elicited by eye movement. Surface potentials elicited by oculomotor nerve stimulation were the same before and after removal of the retina. Again the oculomotor nerve was electrically stimulated and electromyography (EMG) response of the extraocular muscles was recorded at the same time that potentials were recorded from the surface electrodes. In their peak latencies, amplitudes, and waveforms, the evoked potentials obtained from surface electrodes were almost identical to EMG responses of extraocular muscles.
Conclusions. Evoked potentials elicited by electrical stimulation of the oculomotor nerves and obtained from surface electrodes originated from EMG responses of extraocular muscles. These evoked potentials do not derive from the eye.