Proactive control of sequential saccades in the human supplementary eye field

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Apr 2;110(14):E1311-20. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1210492110. Epub 2013 Mar 14.


Our ability to regulate behavior based on past experience has thus far been examined using single movements. However, natural behavior typically involves a sequence of movements. Here, we examined the effect of previous trial type on the concurrent planning of sequential saccades using a unique paradigm. The task consisted of two trial types: no-shift trials, which implicitly encouraged the concurrent preparation of the second saccade in a subsequent trial; and target-shift trials, which implicitly discouraged the same in the next trial. Using the intersaccadic interval as an index of concurrent planning, we found evidence for context-based preparation of sequential saccades. We also used functional MRI-guided, single-pulse, transcranial magnetic stimulation on human subjects to test the role of the supplementary eye field (SEF) in the proactive control of sequential eye movements. Results showed that (i) stimulating the SEF in the previous trial disrupted the previous trial type-based preparation of the second saccade in the nonstimulated current trial, (ii) stimulating the SEF in the current trial rectified the disruptive effect caused by stimulation in the previous trial, and (iii) stimulating the SEF facilitated the preparation of second saccades based on previous trial type even when the previous trial was not stimulated. Taken together, we show how the human SEF is causally involved in proactive preparation of sequential saccades.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Visual Fields / physiology*