We describe a patient with Wernicke's encephalopathy who showed spontaneous upbeat nystagmus with decelerating slow phases that changed to downbeat nystagmus during upward gaze and increased during downward gaze. He also showed horizontal gaze-evoked nystagmus and impaired upward smooth pursuit. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated symmetric lesions involving the bilateral medial thalami, periaqueductal gray matters and inferior cerebellar peduncles. In this patient, the decelerating slow phases and disobedience to Alexander's law of upbeat nystagmus suggest both deficient (leaky) and unstable neural integrators subserving vertical eye motion. Dysfunction of the interstitial nucleus of Cajal or its descending pathway to the vestibulocerebellum via the paramedian tract cell groups may be responsible for the upbeat nystagmus and its modulation by gazes in our patient with Wernicke's encephalopathy.
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Published online: September 14, 2010
Accepted: August 6, 2010
Received in revised form: August 2, 2010
Received: February 5, 2010
© 2010 Elsevier B.V. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.