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Chapter 2.9 - Neuronal evidence for individual eye control in the primate cMRF

Elsevier Science & Technology
DOI: 10.1016/s0079-6123(08)00619-5
  • Saccade
  • Disconjugate Eye Movement
  • Mesencephalic Reticular Formation (Mrf)
  • Superior Colliculus (Sc)
  • Vergence
  • Saccade–Vergence Interaction
  • Supraoculomotor Area (Soa)
  • Oculomotor System
  • Disparity
  • Biology


Abstract: Previous single unit recordings and electrical stimulation have suggested that separate regions of the MRF participate in the control of vergence and conjugate eye movements. Neurons in the supraoculomotor area (SOA) have been found to encode symmetric vergence [Zhang, Y. et al. (1992). J. Neurophysiol., 67: 944–960] while neurons in the central MRF, the cMRF, located ventral to the SOA and lateral to the oculomotor nucleus are associated with conjugate eye movements [Waitzman, D.M. et al. (1996). J. Neurophysiol., 75(4): 1546–1572]. However, it remains unknown if cMRF neurons are strictly associated with conjugate movements since eye movements were recorded with a single eye coil in monkeys viewing visual stimuli at a distance of at least 50cm. In the current study we addressed whether neurons in the cMRF might also encode vergence-related information. Interestingly, electrical stimulation elicited disconjugate saccades (contralateral eye moved more than the ipsilateral eye) from locations previously thought to elicit only conjugate saccades. Single unit recordings in this same area made in two rhesus monkeys trained to follow visual stimuli moved rapidly in depth along the axis of sight of an individual eye demonstrate that cMRF neurons do not simply encode conjugate information during disconjugate saccades; in fact our findings provide evidence that cMRF neurons are most closely associated with the movement of an individual eye. These results support the hypothesis that the midbrain shapes the activity of the pre-motor saccadic neurons by encoding integrated conjugate and vergence commands.

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