Cerebellar involvement in the coordination control of the oculo-manual tracking system: effects of cerebellar dentate nucleus lesion

Exp Brain Res. 1988;73(1):155-66. doi: 10.1007/BF00279669.


When the hand of the observer is used as a visual target, oculomotor performance evaluated in terms of tracking accuracy, delay and maximal ocular velocity is higher than when the subject tracks a visual target presented on a screen. The coordination control exerted by the motor system of the arm on the oculomotor system has two sources: the transfer of kinaesthetic information originating in the arm which increases the mutual coupling between the arm and the eyes and information from the arm movement efferent copy which synchronizes the motor activities of both subsystems (Gauthier et al. 1988; Gauthier and Mussa-Ivaldi 1988). We investigated the involvement of the cerebellum in coordination control during a visuo-oculo-manual tracking task. Experiments were conducted on baboons trained to track visual targets with the eyes and/or the hand. The role of the cerebellum was determined by comparing tracking performance defined in terms of delay, accuracy (position or velocity tracking errors) and maximal velocity, before and after lesioning the cerebellar dentate nucleus. Results showed that in the intact animal, ocular tracking was more saccadic when the monkey followed an external target than when it moved the target with its hand. After lesioning, eye-alone tracking of a visual target as well as eye-and-hand-tracking with the hand contralateral to the lesion was little if at all affected. Conversely, ocular tracking of the hand ipsilateral to the lesion side became more saccadic and the correlation between eye and hand movement decreased considerably while the delay between target and eyes increased. In normal animals, the delay between the eyes and the hand was close to zero, and maximal smooth pursuit velocity was around 100 degrees per second with close to unity gain; in eye-alone tracking the delay and maximal smooth pursuit velocity were 200 ms and 50 deg per second, respectively. After lesioning, delay and maximum velocity were respectively around 210 ms and 40 deg per second, that is close to the values measured in eye-alone tracking. Thus, after dentate lesioning, the oculomotor system was unable to use information from the motor system of the arm to enhance its performance. We conclude that the cerebellum is involved in the "coordination control" between the oculomotor and manual motor systems in visuo-oculo-manual tracking tasks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arm / innervation
  • Arm / physiology*
  • Cerebellar Nuclei / physiology*
  • Eye Movements*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Male
  • Papio / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Pursuit, Smooth*
  • Reaction Time / physiology