The function of the cerebellar uvula in monkey during optokinetic and pursuit eye movements: single-unit responses and lesion effects

Exp Brain Res. 1996 Jun;110(1):1-14. doi: 10.1007/BF00241368.


The cerebellum is known to participate in visually guided eye movements. The cerebellar uvula receives projections from pontine nuclei that have been implicated in visual motion processing and the generation of smooth pursuit. Single-unit and lesion studies were conducted to determine how the uvula might further process these input signals. Purkinje cells and input fibers were recorded during a variety of visual and oculomotor paradigms. Most Purkinje cells were modulated in either an excitatory or inhibitory fashion by prolonged, horizontal optokinetic drum rotation. A small proportion of cells responded during smooth tracking of a small spot of light. As a paradox to the physiological data, lesions of the uvula produced a profound effect on smooth-pursuit eye movements. Initial eye velocity for pursuit in the direction contraversive to the lesion site was increased substantially following lesions in comparison with prelesion controls. The lesions also affected optokinetic nystagmus in the direction contraversive to the lesion, but not as drastically as they did pursuit. Overall the results suggest that the uvula is not in the neuronal pathway that directly controls pursuit, but instead serves to adjust the gain of this system as a result of abnormal periods of motion of the visual world.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebellar Cortex / physiology*
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Nystagmus, Optokinetic / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*
  • Pursuit, Smooth / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Saccades / physiology