Behavioral responses of trained squirrel and rhesus monkeys during oculomotor tasks

Exp Brain Res. 2011 Jul;212(3):409-16. doi: 10.1007/s00221-011-2746-4. Epub 2011 Jun 9.


The oculomotor system is the motor system of choice for many neuroscientists studying motor control and learning because of its simplicity, easy control of inputs (e.g., visual stimulation), and precise control and measurement of motor outputs (eye position). This is especially true in primates, which are easily trained to perform oculomotor tasks. Here we provide the first detailed characterization of the oculomotor performance of trained squirrel monkeys, primates used extensively in oculomotor physiology, during saccade and smooth pursuit tasks, and compare it to that of the rhesus macaque. We found that both primates have similar oculomotor behavior but the rhesus shows a larger oculomotor range, better performance for horizontal saccades above 10 degrees, and better horizontal smooth pursuit gain to target velocities above 15 deg/s. These results are important for interspecies comparisons and necessary when selecting the best stimuli to study motor control and motor learning in the oculomotor systems of these primates.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Pursuit, Smooth / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Saimiri