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Correlates of motor planning and postsaccadic fixation in the macaque monkey lateral geniculate nucleus.

  • Royal, D W
  • Sáry, Gy
  • Schall, J D
  • Casagrande, V A
Published Article
Experimental brain research
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2006
PMID: 16151777


There is significant controversy regarding the ability of the primate visual system to construct stable percepts from a never-ending stream of brief fixations and rapid saccadic eye movements. In this study, we examined the timing and occurrence of perisaccadic modulation of LGN single-unit activity in awake-behaving macaque monkeys while they made spontaneous saccades in the dark and made visually guided saccades to discrete stimuli located outside the receptive field. Our hypothesis was that the activity of LGN cells is modulated by efference copies of motor plans to produce saccadic eye movements and that this modulation depends neither on the presence of feedforward visual information nor on a corollary discharge of signals directing saccadic eye movements. On average, 25% of LGN cells demonstrated significant perisaccadic modulation. This modulation consisted of a moderate suppression of activity that began more than 100 ms prior to the initiation of a saccadic eye movement and continued beyond the termination of the saccadic eye movement. This suppression was followed by a large enhancement of activity after the eyes arrived at the next fixation. Although members of all three LGN relay cell classes (magnocellular, parvocellular, and koniocellular) demonstrated significant saccade-related suppression and enhancement of activity, more cells demonstrated postsaccadic enhancement (25%) than perisaccadic suppression (17%). In no case did the timing of the modulation coincide directly with saccade duration. The degree of modulation observed did not vary with LGN cell class, LGN receptive field center location, center sign (ON-center or OFF-center), or saccade latency or velocity. The time course of modulation did, however, vary with saccade size such that suppression was longer for longer saccades. The fact that activity from a percentage of LGN cells from all cell classes was modulated in relationship to saccadic eye movements in the absence of direct visual stimulation suggests that this modulation is a general phenomenon not tied to specific types of visual stimuli. Similarly, because the onset of the modulation preceded eye movements by more than 100 ms, it is likely that this modulation reflects higher order motor-planning rather than a corollary of mechanisms in direct control of eye movements themselves. Finally, the fact that the largest modulation is a postsaccadic enhancement of activity may suggest that perisaccadic modulations are designed more for the facilitation of visual information processing once the eyes land at a new location than for filtering unwanted visual stimuli.

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