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Stimulation of the caudate nucleus induces contraversive saccadic eye movements as well as head turning in the cat

Neuroscience Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0168-0102(91)90118-i
  • Gaze
  • Saccade
  • Head Turning
  • Eye-Head Coordination
  • Caudate Nucleus
  • Basal Ganglia
  • Electrical Stimulation


Abstract The effects of stimulation of the caudate nucleus were investigated in alert cats, with special reference to the induction of eye and head movements. Stimulation of caudal portions of the caudate nucleus on one side with trains of current pulses induced gaze shifts towards the contralateral side. When the head of the animal was restrained, the majority of evoked eye movements were single conjugate saccades. The amplitude and direction of the evoked saccade varied depending on the initial eye position. The amplitude of the horizontal component tended to be larger for saccades initiated from more ipsilateral positions, and became gradually smaller as the initial eye position shifted to the contralateral side. If the eye was far into the contralateral positions, no saccades were induced. Furthermore, the saccades tended to have a downward component when the eye was initially focused upward, and an upward component when the eye was focused downward. When the head was made free to move, the same stimulation induced a sequence of contraversive staircase gaze shifts composed of coordinated eye and head movements. The eye movements in the orbit resembled nystagmus, consisting of contraversive saccades followed by reverse compensatory movements. The head turning, though smooth and continuous, was also suggested to consist of a series of movements coupled with saccadic eye movement. This study indicates a potential role of the caudate nucleus in the control of orienting reflexes.

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