Early- and late-responding cells to saccadic eye movements in the cortical area V6A of macaque monkey

Exp Brain Res. 2003 Mar;149(1):83-95. doi: 10.1007/s00221-002-1337-9. Epub 2003 Jan 15.


The cortical area V6A, located in the dorsal part of the anterior bank of the parieto-occipital sulcus, contains retino- and craniocentric visual neurones together with neurones sensitive to gaze direction and/or saccadic eye movements, somatosensory stimulation and arm movements. The aim of this work was to study the dynamic characteristics of V6A saccade-related activity. Extracellular recordings were carried out in six macaque monkeys performing a visually guided saccade task with the head restrained. The task was performed in the dark, in both the dark and light, and sometimes in the light only. The discharge of certain neurones during saccades is due to their responsiveness to visual stimuli. We used a statistical method to distinguish responses due to visual stimulation from those responsible for saccadic control. Out of 597 V6A neurones tested, 66 (11%) showed responses correlated with saccades; 26 of 66 responded also to visual stimulation and 31 of 66 did not; the remaining 9 were not visually tested. We calculated the response latency to saccade onset and its inter-trial variance in 24 of 66 neurones. Saccade neurones could respond before, during or after the saccade. Neurones responding before saccade-onset or during saccades had much higher latency variance than neurones responding after saccades. The early-responding cells had a mean latency (+/-SD) of -64+/-62 ms, while the late-responding cells a mean latency of +89+/-20 ms. The responses to saccadic eye movements were directionally sensitive and varied with the amplitude of the saccade. Responses of late-responding cells disappeared in complete darkness. We suggest that the activity of early-responding cells represents the intended saccadic eye movement or the shift of attention towards another part of the visual space, whereas that of late-responding cells is a visual response due to retinal stimulation during saccades.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Darkness
  • Light
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons / radiation effects
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Saccades / physiology*