Doll’s eyes

We’ve spotted it on several occasions but it wasn’t until the weekend that we came across an individual pretty and pristine enough to tempt me. The fruits of Actaea surely do resemble their namesake, and are highly toxic. The sclera, the fleshy white berry, is the mature fruit and the pupil is the stigma scar. My guess is that pachypoda, its specific epithet, refers the stout, and beautifully colored, stems.

In quite another context a diagnosis of Doll’s eyes may be indicative of a traumatic brain injury. The brainstem forms the connection between the peripheral (sensory) nervous system and the central (processing) nervous system. The vestibulo-ocular reflex is responsible for stabilizing visual images, when you turn your head, by driving movements of the eyes in the opposite direction. Sensory information and motor impulses which coordinate this activity must pass the brainstem. Comatose patients whose eyes remain fixed, when the head is turned, are said to display Doll’s eyes. The condition indicates that the brainstem is, functionally, not intact.


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