Effects of low-frequency stimulation of the superior colliculus on spontaneous and visually guided saccades

J Neurophysiol. 1993 Mar;69(3):953-64. doi: 10.1152/jn.1993.69.3.953.


1. The first experiment of this study determined the effects of low-frequency stimulation of the monkey superior colliculus on spontaneous saccades in the dark. Stimulation trains, subthreshold for eliciting short-latency fixed-vector saccades, were highly effective at biasing the metrics (direction and amplitude) of spontaneous movements. During low-frequency stimulation, the distribution of saccade metrics was biased toward the direction and amplitude of movements induced by suprathreshold stimulation of the same collicular location. 2. Low-frequency stimulation biased the distribution of saccade metrics but did not initiate movements. The distribution of intervals between stimulation onset and the onset of the next saccade did not differ significantly from the distribution of intervals between an arbitrary point in time and the onset of the next saccade under unstimulated conditions. 3. Results of our second experiment indicate that low-frequency stimulation also influenced the metrics of visually guided saccades. The magnitude of the stimulation-induced bias increased as stimulation current or frequency was increased. 4. The time course of these effects was analyzed by terminating stimulation immediately before, during, or after visually guided saccades. Stimulation trains terminated at the onset of a movement were as effective as stimulation trains that continued throughout the movement. No effects were observed if stimulation ended 40-60 ms before the movement began. 5. These results show that low-frequency collicular stimulation can influence the direction and amplitude of spontaneous or visually guided saccades without initiating a movement. These data are compatible with the hypothesis that the collicular activity responsible for specifying the horizontal and vertical amplitude of a saccade differs from the type of collicular activity that initiates a saccade.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Color Perception / physiology
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*