Change in sensitivity to visual error in superior colliculus during saccade adaptation

Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 29;7(1):9566. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-10242-z.


Saccadic eye movements provide a valuable model to study the brain mechanisms underlying motor learning. If a target is displaced surreptitiously while a saccade is underway, the saccade appears to be in error. If the error persists gradual neuronal adjustments cause the eye movement again to land near the target. This saccade adaptation typically follows an exponential time course, i.e., adaptation speed slows as adaptation progresses, indicating that the sensitivity to error decreases during adaptation. Previous studies suggested that the superior colliculus (SC) sends error signals to drive saccade adaptation. The objective of this study is to test whether the SC error signal is related to the decrease in the error sensitivity during adaptation. We show here that the visual activity of SC neurons, which is induced by a constant visual error that drives adaptation, decreases during saccade adaptation. This decrease of sensitivity to visual error was not correlated with the changes of primary saccade amplitude. Therefore, a possible interpretation of this result is that the reduction of visual sensitivity of SC neurons contributes an error sensitivity signal that could help control the saccade adaptation process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animals
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Saccades*
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Visual Perception*