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Neurologic state transitions in the eye and brain: Kinetics of loss and recovery of vision and consciousness


Visual alterations, peripheral light loss (PLL) and blackout (BO), are components of acceleration (+Gz) induced loss of consciousness (LOC) and recovery of consciousness (ROC). The kinetics of loss of vision (LOV) and recovery of vision (ROV) were determined utilizing ocular pressure induced retinal ischemia and compared to the kinetics of LOC and ROC resulting from +Gz-induced cephalic nervous system (CPNS) ischemia. The time from self-induced retinal ischemia in completely healthy subjects (N = 104) to the onset of PLL and complete BO was measured. The time from release of ocular pressure, with return of normal retinal circulation, to the time for complete recovery of visual fields was also measured. The kinetics of pressure induced LOV and ROV was compared with previously developed kinetics of +Gz-induced LOC and ROC focusing on the rapid onset, vertical arm, of the +Gz-induced LOC and ROC curves. The time from onset of increased ocular pressure, immediately inducing retinal ischemia, to PLL was 5.04 s with the time to BO being 8.73 s. Complete recovery of the visual field from BO following release of ocular pressure, immediately abolishing retinal ischemia, was 2.74 s. These results confirm experimental findings that visual loss is frequently not experienced prior to LOC during exposure to rapid onset, high levels of +Gz-stress above tolerance. Offset of pressure induced retinal ischemia to ROV was 2.74 s, while the time from offset of +Gz-induced CPNS ischemia to ROC was 5.29 s. Recovery of retinal function would be predicted to be complete before consciousness is regained following +Gz-induced LOC. Ischemia onset time normalization in neurologic tissues permits comparison between different stress-induced times to altered function. The +Gz-time tolerance curves for LOV and LOC provide comparison and integration of neurologic state transition kinetics in the retina and CPNS.

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*Address correspondence to: Typ Whinnery, P. O. Box 720753, Oklahoma City, OK 73172. E-mail:
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Visual Neuroscience
  • ISSN: 0952-5238
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