Combined eye-head gaze shifts in the primate. I. Metrics

J Neurophysiol. 1986 Dec;56(6):1542-57. doi: 10.1152/jn.1986.56.6.1542.


Gaze (eye-in-space) velocity-duration and velocity-amplitude curves were prepared for head-fixed and head-free gaze shifts in the rhesus monkey with an emphasis on large amplitudes. These plots revealed the presence of two distinct gaze reorientation mechanisms, one used when the gaze shift was small (less than 20 degrees) and the other utilized for large coordinated gaze shifts when the head was free. When head-free and head-fixed saccadic gaze shifts were compared in the same animal, no differences in the metrics were found for amplitudes less than 20 degrees. However, for large gaze shifts where contribution of the head to the change in gaze angle was considerable, head-free saccades were found to exhibit lower peak gaze velocities and greater durations than those recorded with the head-fixed paradigm. In order to differentiate between the eye saccades and combined saccadic eye-head gaze shifts, the latter have been termed gaze saccades. Change in head position and change in eye position were both measured during the actual gaze shift and were plotted against the gaze-shift amplitude to determine whether the head movement contributed significantly to the change in gaze angle. The results indicate that below 20 degrees the gaze shift is accomplished almost exclusively with the eyes and the head moves very little; however, for larger saccades, the head contributes approximately 80% of the total change in gaze angle with the eyes contributing only approximately 20%. Large saccadic eye-head gaze shifts do not exhibit 'bell-shaped' velocity profiles as do smaller head-fixed saccades; instead, gaze accelerates to reach a peak velocity after approximately 30-40 ms. This velocity is then maintained for the duration of the gaze shift. Close scrutiny of the fine structure of the velocity profiles of the eye, head, and gaze channels indicates that during gaze saccades, the eye and head movement motor programs interact to maintain gaze velocity nearly constant, unaffected by changes in head velocity. Previous authors had stated that when velocity-duration plots are obtained for oblique saccades of constant amplitude, the resulting points could be fitted with a hyperbolic function. These results were confirmed for head-free gaze saccades and extended to larger amplitudes. When an oblique saccade is made, the smaller component is stretched in duration to match the duration of the larger component. However, as the gaze shift becomes large (greater than 40 degrees), the relationship becomes more complex.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eye Movements*
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Neck Muscles / physiology*
  • Saccades