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J Neurosci. 2010 Sep 1;30(35):11612-23. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2977-10.2010.

Internally generated error signals in monkey frontal eye field during an inferred motion task.

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Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Columbia University, Keck-Mahoney Center for Brain and Behavior Research, New York, New York 10032, USA.


An internal model for predictive saccades in frontal cortex was investigated by recording neurons in monkey frontal eye field (FEF) during an inferred motion task. Monkeys were trained to make saccades to the extrapolated position of a small moving target that was rendered temporarily invisible and whose trajectory was altered. On approximately two-thirds of the trials, monkeys made multiple saccades while the target was invisible. Primary saccades were correlated with extrapolated target position. Secondary saccades significantly reduced residual errors resulting from imperfect accuracy of the first saccade. These observations suggest that the second saccade was corrective. Because there was no visual feedback, corrective saccades could only be driven by an internally generated error signal. Neuronal activity in the frontal eye field was directionally tuned before both primary and secondary saccades. Separate subpopulations of cells encoded either saccade direction or direction error before the second saccade. These results suggest that FEF neurons encode the error after the first saccade, as well as the direction of the second saccade. Hence, FEF appears to contribute to detecting and correcting movement errors based on internally generated signals.

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