The Influence of a Memory Delay on Spatial Coding in the Superior Colliculus: Is Visual Always Visual and Motor Always Motor?

Front Neural Circuits. 2018 Oct 22;12:74. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2018.00074. eCollection 2018.


The memory-delay saccade task is often used to separate visual and motor responses in oculomotor structures such as the superior colliculus (SC), with the assumption that these same responses would sum with a short delay during immediate "reactive" saccades to visual stimuli. However, it is also possible that additional signals (suppression, delay) alter visual and/or motor response in the memory delay task. Here, we compared the spatiotemporal properties of visual and motor responses of the same SC neurons recorded during both the reactive and memory-delay tasks in two head-unrestrained monkeys. Comparing tasks, visual (aligned with target onset) and motor (aligned on saccade onset) responses were highly correlated across neurons, but the peak response of visual neurons and peak motor responses (of both visuomotor (VM) and motor neurons) were significantly higher in the reactive task. Receptive field organization was generally similar in both tasks. Spatial coding (along a Target-Gaze (TG) continuum) was also similar, with the exception that pure motor cells showed a stronger tendency to code future gaze location in the memory delay task, suggesting a more complete transformation. These results suggest that the introduction of a trained memory delay alters both the vigor and spatial coding of SC visual and motor responses, likely due to a combination of saccade suppression signals and greater signal noise accumulation during the delay in the memory delay task.

Keywords: gaze shift; memory; primates; saccades; superior colliculi.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*

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