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J Neurophysiol. 1988 Jan;59(1):1-18.

The role of the posterior vermis of monkey cerebellum in smooth-pursuit eye movement control. I. Eye and head movement-related activity.

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  • 1Jules Stein Eye Institute, University of California, School of Medicine, Los Angeles 90024.


1. The observation of smooth-pursuit eye and retinal image velocity signals in lobules VI and VII of the vermis has given rise to the hypothesis that a neural correlate of a target velocity signal exists in this region of the cerebellum (29). However, activity signaling head velocity is also required to regenerate a target velocity signal. Vermal Purkinje cell activity was, therefore, recorded during the performance of paradigms designed to dissociate head movement-related responses. 2. The activity of 107 Purkinje cells was found to be related to horizontal head velocity. Of these, 52% increased their discharge rate for ipsilaterally directed passive head movement (type I), and 48% were excited by contralateral head movements (type II). 3. In five Purkinje cells in which sufficient data were obtained, cell discharge rate increased monotonically with head velocity over the range of 5-40 deg/s. The sensitivity to head velocity at 0.4 Hz +/- 25 deg/s averaged approximately 0.5 spikes.s-1/deg.s-1 in a larger sample of cells (n = 39). The sensitivities to head velocity, at this same frequency and velocity, of type I and type II Purkinje cells were comparable at 0.44 and 0.51 spikes.s-1/deg.s-1, respectively. 4. The Purkinje cell responses led head velocity by an average of 12 degrees at 0.4 Hz +/- 25 deg/s of passive head rotation. The phase shifts associated with type I and II responses were similar with phase leads of 13 and 9 degrees with respect to head velocity, respectively. 5. A linear interaction of smooth-pursuit eye and head velocity signals was observed during the performance of a variety of antiphase and inphase eye and head movement paradigms. The results support the conclusion that some Purkinje cells in lobules VI and VII of the cerebellar vermis encode a gaze velocity signal. Contributions of the head velocity signal to the regeneration of target velocity are considered in a companion paper (32).

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