Primate supplementary eye field: I. Comparative aspects of mesencephalic and pontine connections

J Comp Neurol. 1990 Nov 22;301(4):618-42. doi: 10.1002/cne.903010410.


WGA-HRP was used to examine projections to the brainstem from the supplementary eye field (SEF). The SEF was defined electrophysiologically in awake, behaving monkeys and connections were compared to those of the arcuate frontal eye field (FEF), area 6DC, and primary motor cortex. The SEF was found to have either direct or indirect connections with almost every known pre- and paraoculomotor structure of the brainstem. The SEF was found to project bilaterally to layers I and IV of a tangentially widespread region of the superior colliculus. Terminal label was evident in the pretectal olivary nucleus, nucleus of the optic tract, nucleus raphe interpositus (omnipause region), nucleus prepositus hypoglossi, the perioculomotor cap of the central gray, dorsal central gray, nucleus reticularis tegmenti pontis, nucleus reticularis pontis oralis, and to multiple nuclei of the basis pontis (most densely to the dorsomedial nucleus). Bilateral projections were found in the parvicellular red nucleus. Reciprocal connections were present in the nucleus limitans, the mesencephalic reticular formation, locus coeruleus, and the serotonergic nuclei of the raphe complex (dorsalis and central superior). Overall patterns of connectivity were similar to those of the FEF and markedly different from those of the contiguous dorsocaudal area 6 or primary motor cortex. It was concluded that observed patterns of SEF-brainstem connectivity further justifies viewing this region as a distinct eye field that is likely to serve preparatory and trigger functions in the generation of saccadic eye movements.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Macaca / physiology*
  • Mesencephalon / physiology*
  • Pons / physiology*
  • Visual Fields*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*