Discharge of superior collicular neurons during saccades made to moving targets

J Neurophysiol. 1996 Nov;76(5):3573-7. doi: 10.1152/jn.1996.76.5.3573.


1. The discharge of neurons in the deeper layers of the monkey superior colliculus was recorded during saccades made to stationary and to smoothly moving visual targets. 2. All neurons that discharged for saccades made to stationary targets also discharged during saccades made to moving targets, but there was a systematic shift in the saccade vector yielding maximal activity (i.e. center of the movement field) of collicular neurons for the latter class of movements. The shift moved the center of the movement fields toward larger-amplitude pursuit saccades for target motion away from the fovea, in comparison with saccades made to stationary targets. However, the discharge at the center of the movement field for pursuit saccades was 14% lower when averaged over the sample of recorded cells. 3. The saccades made during pursuit tracking of moving visual stimuli have different dynamics than saccades made to stationary targets. At similar amplitudes pursuit saccades are slower, and their velocity profiles often show secondary velocity peaks or inflection points and have longer-duration decelerating phases. 4. The combined experimental observations of a change in saccade dynamics and the shift in movement fields in collicular neurons for pursuit saccades are compatible with the hypothesis that saccades made to moving targets are controlled by neural processing in two partially separate pathways. In this theory, one path is concerned with correction of a presaccadic retinal position error (a path that includes the colliculus) and another path is concerned with position extrapolations based on the velocity of the moving target (a path that does not include the colliculus).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Macaca
  • Male
  • Pursuit, Smooth / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*