Visual and presaccadic activity in area 8Ar of the macaque monkey lateral prefrontal cortex

J Neurophysiol. 2017 Jul 1;118(1):15-28. doi: 10.1152/jn.00278.2016. Epub 2017 Mar 15.


Common trends observed in many visual and oculomotor-related cortical areas include retinotopically organized receptive and movement fields exhibiting a Gaussian shape and increasing size with eccentricity. These trends are demonstrated in the frontal eye fields, many visual areas, and the superior colliculus but have not been thoroughly characterized in prearcuate area 8Ar of the prefrontal cortex. This is important since area 8Ar, located anterior to the frontal eye fields, is more cytoarchitectonically similar to prefrontal areas than premotor areas. Here we recorded the responses of 166 neurons in area 8Ar of two male macaques while the animals made visually guided saccades to a peripheral sine-wave grating stimulus positioned at 1 of 40 possible locations (8 angles along 5 eccentricities). To characterize the neurons' receptive and movement fields, we fit a bivariate Gaussian model to the baseline-subtracted average firing rate during stimulus presentation (early and late visual epochs) and before saccade onset (presaccadic epoch). One hundred twenty-one of one hundred sixty-six neurons showed spatially selective visual and presaccadic responses. Of the visually selective neurons, 76% preferred the contralateral visual hemifield, whereas 24% preferred the ipsilateral hemifield. The angular width of visual and movement-related fields scaled positively with increasing eccentricity. Moreover, responses of neurons with visual receptive fields were modulated by target contrast, exhibiting sigmoid tuning curves that resemble those of visual neurons in upstream areas such as MT and V4. Finally, we found that neurons with receptive fields at similar spatial locations were clustered within the area; however, this organization did not appear retinotopic.NEW & NOTEWORTHY We recorded the responses of neurons in lateral prefrontal area 8Ar of macaques during a visually guided saccade task using multielectrode arrays. Neurons have Gaussian-shaped visual and movement fields in both visual hemifields, with a bias toward the contralateral hemifield. Visual neurons show contrast response functions with sigmoid shapes. Visual neurons tend to cluster at similar locations within the cortical surface; however, this organization does not appear retinotopic.

Keywords: clustering; prefrontal cortex; receptive fields; saccades; target selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Saccades*
  • Visual Perception*