The proprioceptive representation of eye position in monkey primary somatosensory cortex

Nat Neurosci. 2007 May;10(5):640-6. doi: 10.1038/nn1878. Epub 2007 Apr 1.


The cerebral cortex must have access to an eye position signal, as humans can report passive changes in eye position in total darkness, and visual responses in many cortical areas are modulated by eye position. The source of this signal is unknown. Here we demonstrate a representation of eye position in monkey primary somatosensory cortex, in the representation of the trigeminal nerve, near cells with a tactile representation of the contralateral brow. The neurons have eye position signals that increase monotonically with increasing orbital eccentricity from near the center of gaze, with directionally selectivity tuned in a Gaussian manner. All directions of eye position are represented in a single hemisphere. The signal is proprioceptive, because it can be obliterated by anesthetizing the contralateral orbit. It is not related to foveal or peripheral visual stimulation, and it represents the position of the eye in the head and not the angle of gaze in space.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Elbow / innervation
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality
  • Head Movements
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Normal Distribution
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Trigeminal Nerve / physiology
  • Visual Fields / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology