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Brain. 2003 Jun;126(Pt 6):1460-73.

Decisional role of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in ocular motor behaviour.

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INSERM 289 and Service de Neurologie 1, Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris, France.


Three patients with a unilateral cortical lesion affecting the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), i.e. Brodmann area 46, were tested using different paradigms of reflexive saccades (gap and overlap tasks), intentional saccades (antisaccades, memory-guided and predictive saccades) and smooth pursuit movements. Visually guided saccades with gap and overlap, latency of correct antisaccades and memory-guided saccades and the gain of smooth pursuit were normal, compared with controls. These results confirm our anatomical data showing that the adjacent frontal eye field (FEF) was unimpaired in these patients. The specific pattern of abnormalities after a unilateral DLPFC lesion, compared with that of the FEF lesions previously reported, consists mainly of: (i) a bilateral increase in the percentage of errors in the antisaccade task (misdirected reflexive saccades); (ii) a bilateral increase in the variable error in amplitude, without significant decrease in the gain, in the memory-guided saccade task; and (iii) a bilateral decrease in the percentage of anticipatory saccades in the predictive task. Taken together, these results suggest that the DLPFC plays a crucial role in the decisional processes, preparing saccades by inhibiting unwanted reflexive saccades (inhibition), maintaining memorized information for ongoing intentional saccades (short-term spatial memory) or facilitating anticipatory saccades (prediction), depending upon current external environmental and internal circumstances.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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