Monkey superior colliculus represents rapid eye movements in a two-dimensional motor map

J Neurophysiol. 1993 Mar;69(3):965-79. doi: 10.1152/jn.1993.69.3.965.


1. Although the eye has three rotational degrees of freedom, eye positions, during fixations, saccades, and smooth pursuit, with the head stationary and upright, are constrained to a plane by Listing's law. We investigated whether Listing's law for rapid eye movements is implemented at the level of the deeper layers of the superior colliculus (SC). 2. In three alert rhesus monkeys we tested whether the saccadic motor map of the SC is two dimensional, representing oculocentric target vectors (the vector or V-model), or three dimensional, representing the coordinates of the rotation of the eye from initial to final position (the quaternion or Q-model). 3. Monkeys made spontaneous saccadic eye movements both in the light and in the dark. They were also rotated about various axes to evoke quick phases of vestibular nystagmus, which have three degrees of freedom. Eye positions were measured in three dimensions with the magnetic search coil technique. 4. While the monkey made spontaneous eye movements, we electrically stimulated the deeper layers of the SC and elicited saccades from a wide range of initial positions. According to the Q-model, the torsional component of eye position after stimulation should be uniquely related to saccade onset position. However, stimulation at 110 sites induced no eye torsion, in line with the prediction of the V-model. 5. Activity of saccade-related burst neurons in the deeper layers of the SC was analyzed during rapid eye movements in three dimensions. No systematic eye-position dependence of the movement fields, as predicted by the Q-model, could be detected for these cells. Instead, the data fitted closely the predictions made by the V-model. 6. In two monkeys, both SC were reversibly inactivated by symmetrical bilateral injections of muscimol. The frequency of spontaneous saccades in the light decreased dramatically. Although the remaining spontaneous saccades were slow, Listing's law was still obeyed, both during fixations and saccadic gaze shifts. In the dark, vestibularly elicited fast phases of nystagmus could still be generated in three dimensions. Although the fastest quick phases of horizontal and vertical nystagmus were slower by about a factor of 1.5, those of torsional quick phases were unaffected. 7. On the basis of the electrical stimulation data and the properties revealed by the movement field analysis, we conclude that the collicular motor map is two dimensional. The reversible inactivation results suggest that the SC is not the site where three-dimensional fast phases of vestibular nystagmus are generated.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Pons / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Pursuit, Smooth / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reticular Formation / physiology
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*