Organization of monkey superior colliculus: intermediate layer cells discharging before eye movements

J Neurophysiol. 1976 Jul;39(4):722-44. doi: 10.1152/jn.1976.39.4.722.


1. We investigated the characteristics of cells in the intermediate layers of the superior colliculus that increase their rate of discharge before saccadic eye movements. Eye movements were repeatedly elicited by training rhesus monkeys to fixate on a spot of light and to make saccades to other spots of light when the fixation spot was turned off. 2. The eye movement cells showed consistent variations with their depth within the colliculus. The onset of the cell discharge led the eye movement by less time and the duration of the discharge was shorter as the cell was located closer to the dorsal edge of the intermediate layers. The movements fields (that area of the visual field where a saccade into the area is preceded by a burst of cell discharges) of each successive cell also became smaller as the cells were located more dorsally. The profile of peak discharge frequency remained fairly flat throughout the movement field of the cells regardless of depth of the cell within the colliculus. 3. A new type of eye movement-related cell has been found which usually lies at the border between the superficial and intermediate layers. This cell type, the visually triggered movement cell, increased its rate of discharge before saccades made to a visual stimulus but not before spontaneous saccades of equal amplitude made in the light or the dark. A vigorous discharge of these cells before an eye movement was dependent on the presence of a visual target; the cells seemed to combine the visual input of superficial layer cells and the movement-related input of the intermediate layer cells. The size of the movement fields of these cells were about the same size as the visual fields of superficial layer cells just above them...

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials*
  • Animals
  • Eye Movements*
  • Haplorhini
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Oculomotor Muscles / innervation
  • Reaction Time
  • Superior Colliculi / cytology
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*