Movement selection in advance of action in the superior colliculus

Nature. 1992 Feb 6;355(6360):542-5. doi: 10.1038/355542a0.


The primate superior colliculus contains a map of saccadic eye movements. Saccades are high-velocity eye movements to selected targets in the visual field, but little is known about the neural mechanisms responsible for target selection or the related problem of choosing a particular movement from the oculomotor repertoire. Two classes of neurons have been described in the superior colliculus which show bursts of activity before the saccade: discrete bursters display a vigorous pre-saccadic burst and prelude bursters show low-frequency activity as a prelude to burst onset. We have designed experiments to test whether prelude activity is related to saccade selection. Our tasks use a cue to specify which of two physically identical visual stimuli is the goal of an impending saccade. This cue is spatially and temporally isolated from the potential targets as well as from visual cues signalling movement initiation. Our results show that prelude activity occurs shortly after information is available for correct saccade selection and, more importantly, the activity is predictive of saccade choice. The results thus suggest that the superior colliculus participates in the process of saccade selection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electrophysiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*