The effect of frontal eye field and superior colliculus lesions on saccadic latencies in the rhesus monkey

J Neurophysiol. 1987 Apr;57(4):1033-49. doi: 10.1152/jn.1987.57.4.1033.


Rhesus monkeys were trained to make saccadic eye movements to visual targets using detection and discrimination paradigms in which they were required to make a saccade either to a solitary stimulus (detection) or to that same stimulus when it appeared simultaneously with several other stimuli (discrimination). The detection paradigm yielded a bimodal distribution of saccadic latencies with the faster mode peaking around 100 ms (express saccades); the introduction of a pause between the termination of the fixation spot and the onset of the target (gap) increased the frequency of express saccades. The discrimination paradigm, on the other hand, yielded only a unimodal distribution of latencies even when a gap was introduced, and there was no evidence for short-latency "express" saccades. In three monkeys either the frontal eye field or the superior colliculus was ablated unilaterally. Frontal eye field ablation had no discernible long-term effects on the distribution of saccadic latencies in either the detection or discrimination tasks. After unilateral collicular ablation, on the other hand, express saccades obtained in the detection paradigm were eliminated for eye movements contralateral to the lesion, leaving only a unimodal distribution of latencies. This deficit persisted throughout testing, which in one monkey continued for 9 mo. Express saccades were not observed again for saccades contralateral to the lesion, and the mean latency of the contralateral saccades was longer than the mean latency of the second peak for the ipsiversive saccades. The latency distribution of saccades ipsiversive to the collicular lesion was unaffected except for a few days after surgery, during which time an increase in the proportion of express saccades was evident. Saccades obtained with the discrimination paradigm yielded a small but reliable increase in saccadic latencies following collicular lesions, without altering the shape of the distribution. Unilateral muscimol injections into the superior colliculus produced results similar to those obtained immediately after collicular lesions: saccades contralateral to the injection site were strongly inhibited and showed increased saccadic latencies. This was accompanied by a decrease of ipsilateral saccadic latencies and an increase in the number of saccades falling into the express range. The results suggest that the superior colliculus is essential for the generation of short-latency (express) saccades and that the frontal eye fields do not play a significant role in shaping the distribution of saccadic latencies in the paradigms used in this study.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Eye Movements*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Reaction Time
  • Reward
  • Saccades*
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Vision, Ocular
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields*