Functional anatomy of pursuit eye movements in humans as revealed by fMRI

J Neurophysiol. 1999 Jul;82(1):463-71. doi: 10.1152/jn.1999.82.1.463.


We have investigated the functional anatomy of pursuit eye movements in humans with functional magnetic imaging. The performance of pursuit eye movements induced activations in the cortical eye fields also activated during the execution of visually guided saccadic eye movements, namely in the precentral cortex [frontal eye field (FEF)], the medial superior frontal cortex (supplementary eye field), the intraparietal cortex (parietal eye field), and the precuneus, and at the junction of occipital and temporal cortex (MT/MST) cortex. Pursuit-related areas could be distinguished from saccade-related areas both in terms of spatial extent and location. Pursuit-related areas were smaller than their saccade-related counterparts, three of eight significantly so. The pursuit-related FEF was usually inferior to saccade-related FEF. Other pursuit-related areas were consistently posterior to their saccade-related counterparts. The current findings provide the first functional imaging evidence for a distinction between two parallel cortical systems that subserve pursuit and saccadic eye movements in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Occipital Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Pursuit, Smooth / physiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology