Dissociation of saccade-related and pursuit-related activation in human frontal eye fields as revealed by fMRI

J Neurophysiol. 1997 Jun;77(6):3386-90. doi: 10.1152/jn.1997.77.6.3386.


The location of the human frontal eye fields (FEFs) underlying horizontal visually guided saccadic and pursuit eye movements was investigated with the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging in five healthy humans. Execution of both saccadic and pursuit eye movements induced bilateral FEF activation located medially at the junction of the precentral sulcus and the superior frontal sulcus and extending laterally to the precentral gyrus. These findings extend previous functional imaging studies by providing the first functional imaging evidence of a specific activation in the FEF during smooth pursuit eye movements in healthy humans. FEF activation during smooth pursuit performance was smaller than during saccades. This finding, which may reflect the presence of a smaller pursuit-related region area in human FEF than the saccade-related region, is consistent with their relative size observed in the monkey. The mean location of the pursuit-related FEF was more inferior and lateral than the location of the saccade-related FEF. These results provide the first evidence that there are different subregions in the human FEF that are involved in the execution of two different types of eye movements, namely saccadic and pursuit eye movements. Moreover, this study provides additional evidence that the human FEF is located in Brodmann's area 6, unlike the monkey FEF which is located in the posterior part of Brodmann's area 8.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Pursuit, Smooth / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Species Specificity