Saccade-related activity in monkey superior colliculus. I. Characteristics of burst and buildup cells

J Neurophysiol. 1995 Jun;73(6):2313-33. doi: 10.1152/jn.1995.73.6.2313.


1. In the monkey superior colliculus (SC), the activity of most saccade-related neurons studied so far consists of a burst of activity in a population of cells at one place on the SC movement map. In contrast, recent experiments in the cat have described saccade-related activity as a slow increase in discharge before saccades followed by a hill of activity moving across the SC map. In order to explore this striking difference in the distribution of activity across the SC, we recorded from all saccade-related neurons that we encountered in microelectrode penetrations through the monkey SC and placed them in categories according to their activity during the generation of saccades. 2. When we considered the activity preceding the onset of the saccade, we could divide the cells into two categories. Cells with burst activity had a high-frequency discharge just before saccade onset but little activity between the signal to make a saccade and saccade onset. About two thirds of the saccade-related cells had only a burst of activity. Cells with a buildup of activity began to discharge at a low frequency after the signal to make a saccade and the discharge continued until generation of the saccade. About one third of the saccade-related cells studied had a buildup of activity, and about three fourths of these cells also gave a burst of activity with the saccade in addition to the slow buildup of activity. 3. The buildup of activity seemed to be more closely related to preparation to make a saccade than to the generation of the saccade. The buildup developed even in cases when no saccade occurred. 4. The falling phase of the discharge of these saccade-related cells stopped with the end of the saccade (a clipped discharge), shortly after the end of the saccade (partially clipped), or long after the end of the saccade (unclipped). 5. Some cells had closed movement fields in which saccades that were substantially smaller or larger than the optimal amplitude were not associated with increased activity. Other cells tended to have open-ended movement fields without any peripheral border; they were active for all saccades of optimal direction whose amplitudes were equal to or greater than a given amplitude.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Time Factors