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Exp Brain Res. 2004 Jun;156(3):357-76. Epub 2004 Feb 21.

Electrical stimulation of rhesus monkey nucleus reticularis gigantocellularis. II. Effects on metrics and kinematics of ongoing gaze shifts to visual targets.

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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Rochester, 601 Elmwood Ave., Box 603, NY 14642, Rochester, USA.


Saccade kinematics are altered by ongoing head movements. The hypothesis that a head movement command signal, proportional to head velocity, transiently reduces the gain of the saccadic burst generator (Freedman 2001, Biol Cybern 84:453-462) can account for this observation. Using electrical stimulation of the rhesus monkey nucleus reticularis gigantocellularis (NRG) to alter the head contribution to ongoing gaze shifts, two critical predictions of this gaze control hypothesis were tested. First, this hypothesis predicts that activation of the head command pathway will cause a transient reduction in the gain of the saccadic burst generator. This should alter saccade kinematics by initially reducing velocity without altering saccade amplitude. Second, because this hypothesis does not assume that gaze amplitude is controlled via feedback, the added head contribution (produced by NRG stimulation on the side ipsilateral to the direction of an ongoing gaze shift) should lead to hypermetric gaze shifts. At every stimulation site tested, saccade kinematics were systematically altered in a way that was consistent with transient reduction of the gain of the saccadic burst generator. In addition, gaze shifts produced during NRG stimulation were hypermetric compared with control movements. For example, when targets were briefly flashed 30 degrees from an initial fixation location, gaze shifts during NRG stimulation were on average 140% larger than control movements. These data are consistent with the predictions of the tested hypothesis, and may be problematic for gaze control models that rely on feedback control of gaze amplitude, as well as for models that do not posit an interaction between head commands and the saccade burst generator.

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