Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Peter Pidcoe, PT, DPT, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Paul A. Wetzel, Ph.D.


Athletic potential is one of the most complex human traits. An elite athlete is produced from a complex interaction of an innumerable number of traits exhibited by the athlete. However, it’s not clear whether these traits are innate, allowing the athlete to excel, or, alternatively, are a consequence of practice. To be successful, athletes rely heavily on sensory information from the visual and vestibular systems. This study investigated the relationship eye movement control has with innate athleticism by comparing the saccadic and Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex (VOR) responses of former, no longer practicing, elite athletes against their age and gender matched counterparts who were non-elite or non-athletes. Results showed subjects who participated in athletic activities longer (regardless of type or level achieved), showed both significantly better VOR suppression capabilities, as well as higher head velocities while suppressing their VOR. Although, these results are correlative in nature, they do not support the potential that VOR suppression is a learned trait of athletes. A longitudinal study would be required to assess this relationship fully.


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