Visual and oculomotor signals in nucleus reticularis tegmenti pontis in alert monkey

J Neurophysiol. 1985 Nov;54(5):1326-45. doi: 10.1152/jn.1985.54.5.1326.


A small region in the dorsal midline portion of the nucleus reticularis tegmenti pontis (NRTP) in monkeys contains neurons that respond to focal visual stimuli or during saccadic eye movements or both. None of these cells or any others in this region respond to the motion of large visual fields (optokinetic stimulation), although such responses were specifically sought. Thus, this group of NRTP neurons forms a completely different set of cells than those previously described in more rostral but closely adjacent portions of the pontine nuclei which respond well to optokinetic stimulation. The most frequently encountered cell type in this region of NRTP (153 neurons) produced a high-frequency burst of discharges during saccadic eye movements. Neural discharge (burst intensity or duration) was not related to saccade metrics. Instead, peak burst frequency and/or the number of spikes in a unit's burst reached a maximum when the saccade moved the eyes to a circumscribed region (movement field) of the animal's visual field. There were two subtypes of these burst neurons. In one type (44%) the movement fields were smaller and entirely contained within the oculomotor range. In the other type (56%) the movement fields consisted of a whole sector (some as wide as 180 degrees) of the entire oculomotor range. All the neurons in this sample that we were able to test in total darkness continued to produce bursts of discharges of similar profile during spontaneous saccades into their movement field. All the movement fields were retinotopically organized, although a few cells (22%) showed a marked variation of burst metrics with initial eye position. Another small group of cells in NRTP (8 neurons) responded to small spots of light turned on within a circumscribed region of the visual field while the animal maintained fixation on a separate spot of light. These visual neurons produced no saccade-related discharge. A larger group of neurons (24 out of 52 tested cells) produced both a visual response and a saccadic burst. The visual field of this type of cell was always smaller and was contained within the movement field of the cell. The response of both types of NRTP visual neurons was enhanced when the visual stimulus was to be the target for a saccadic eye movement. On double-saccade trials the visual stimulus was never present in the hemifield containing the cell's visual field.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electrophysiology
  • Eye Movements*
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Macaca radiata
  • Nystagmus, Physiologic
  • Pons / physiology*
  • Reticular Formation / physiology*
  • Saccades
  • Visual Perception / physiology*