In this study we tested whether a selective reward could affect the adaptation of saccadic eye movements in monkeys. We induced the adaptation of saccades by displacing the target of a horizontal saccade vertically as the eye moved toward it, thereby creating an apparent vertical dysmetria. The repeated upward target displacement caused the originally horizontal saccade to gradually deviate upward over the course of several hundred trials. We induced this directional adaptation in both right- and leftward saccades in every experiment (n=20). In half of the experiments (n=10), we rewarded monkeys only when they made leftward saccades and in the other half (n=10) only for rightward saccades. The reaction time of saccades in the rewarded direction was shorter and we, like others, interpreted this change as a sign of the reward's preferential effect in that direction. Saccades in the rewarded direction showed more rapid adaptation of their directions than did saccades in the non-rewarded direction, indicating that the selective reward increased the speed of saccade adaptation. The differences in adaptation speed were reflected in changes in saccade metrics, which were usually more noticeable in the deceleration phases of saccades than in their acceleration phases. Because previous studies have shown that the oculomotor cerebellum is involved with saccade deceleration and also participates in saccade adaptation, it is possible that selective reward could influence cerebellar plasticity.
Keywords: adaptation; cerebellum; reward; saccade.
Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.