Primates use saccades to gather information about objects and their relative spatial arrangement, a process essential for visual perception and memory. It has been proposed that signals linked to saccades reset the phase of local field potential (LFP) oscillations in the hippocampus, providing a temporal window for visual signals to activate neurons in this region and influence memory formation. We investigated this issue by measuring hippocampal LFPs and spikes in two macaques performing different tasks with unconstrained eye movements. We found that LFP phase clustering (PC) in the alpha/beta (8-16 Hz) frequencies followed foveation onsets, while PC in frequencies lower than 8 Hz followed spontaneous saccades, even on a homogeneous background. Saccades to a solid grey background were not followed by increases in local neuronal firing, whereas saccades toward appearing visual stimuli were. Finally, saccade parameters correlated with LFPs phase and amplitude: saccade direction correlated with delta (≤4 Hz) phase, and saccade amplitude with theta (4-8 Hz) power. Our results suggest that signals linked to saccades reach the hippocampus, producing synchronization of delta/theta LFPs without a general activation of local neurons. Moreover, some visual inputs co-occurring with saccades produce LFP synchronization in the alpha/beta bands and elevated neuronal firing. Our findings support the hypothesis that saccade-related signals enact sensory input-dependent plasticity and therefore memory formation in the primate hippocampus.
Keywords: hippocampal LFP; macaque monkey; phase coding; phase modulation; virtual reality.
© 2019 Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada Reproduced with the permission of the Robarts Research Institute, University of Western Ontario.