Frontal-subcortical circuits involved in reactive control and monitoring of gaze

J Neurosci. 2014 Jun 25;34(26):8918-29. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0732-14.2014.


Rapid and reactive control of movement is essential in a dynamic environment and is disrupted in several neuropsychiatric disorders. Nonhuman primate neurophysiology studies have made significant contributions to our understanding of how saccadic eye movements can be rapidly inhibited, changed, and monitored. These results highlight a frontostriatal network involved in gaze control and provide a strong basis for understanding how cognitive control of action is implemented in the human brain. The goal of the present study was to bridge human and nonhuman primate studies by investigating reactive control of eye movements during fMRI using a task that has been used in neurophysiology studies: the search-step task. This task requires a speeded response to a visual target (no-step trial). On a minority (40%) of trials, the target jumps to a new location and participants are instructed to inhibit the initially planned saccade and redirect gaze toward the new location (redirect trial). Compared with no-step trials, greater activation in a frontal oculomotor network, including frontal and supplementary eye fields (SEFs), and the striatum was observed during correctly executed redirect trials. Individual differences in stopping efficiency were related to striatal activation. Further, greater activation in SEF was in a region anterior to that activated during visually guided saccades and scaled positively with error magnitude, suggesting a prominent role in response monitoring. Combined, these data lend new evidence for a role of the striatum in reactive saccade control and further clarify the role of SEF in action inhibition and performance monitoring.

Keywords: basal ganglia; cognitive control; functional MRI; saccades; search-step task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology
  • Young Adult