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J Neurophysiol. 2007 Apr;97(4):3093-108. Epub 2007 Feb 15.

Tectal control of locomotion, steering, and eye movements in lamprey.

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Department of Neuroscience, Nobel Institute for Neurophysiology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm Brain Institute, Retzius väg 8, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


The intrinsic function of the brain stem-spinal cord networks eliciting the locomotor synergy is well described in the lamprey-a vertebrate model system. This study addresses the role of tectum in integrating eye, body orientation, and locomotor movements as in steering and goal-directed behavior. Electrical stimuli were applied to different areas within the optic tectum in head-restrained semi-intact lampreys (n = 40). Motions of the eyes and body were recorded simultaneously (videotaped). Brief pulse trains (<0.5 s) elicited only eye movements, but with longer stimuli (>0.5 s) lateral bending movements of the body (orientation movements) were added, and with even longer stimuli locomotor movements were initiated. Depending on the tectal area stimulated, four characteristic response patterns were observed. In a lateral area conjugate horizontal eye movements combined with lateral bending movements of the body and locomotor movements were elicited, depending on stimulus duration. The amplitude of the eye movement and bending movements was site specific within this region. In a rostromedial area, bilateral downward vertical eye movements occurred. In a caudomedial tectal area, large-amplitude undulatory body movements akin to struggling behavior were elicited, combined with large-amplitude eye movements that were antiphasic to the body movements. The alternating eye movements were not dependent on vestibuloocular reflexes. Finally, in a caudolateral area locomotor movements without eye or bending movements could be elicited. These results show that tectum can provide integrated motor responses of eye, body orientation, and locomotion of the type that would be required in goal-directed locomotion.

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