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J Neurophysiol. 2014 Feb;111(4):804-16. doi: 10.1152/jn.00002.2013. Epub 2013 Nov 20.

Stimulation of the substantia nigra influences the specification of memory-guided saccades.

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1
Department of Neuroscience, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin;

Abstract

In the absence of sensory information, we rely on past experience or memories to guide our actions. Because previous experimental and clinical reports implicate basal ganglia nuclei in the generation of movement in the absence of sensory stimuli, we ask here whether one output nucleus of the basal ganglia, the substantia nigra pars reticulata (nigra), influences the specification of an eye movement in the absence of sensory information to guide the movement. We manipulated the level of activity of neurons in the nigra by introducing electrical stimulation to the nigra at different time intervals while monkeys made saccades to different locations in two conditions: one in which the target location remained visible and a second in which the target location appeared only briefly, requiring information stored in memory to specify the movement. Electrical manipulation of the nigra occurring during the delay period of the task, when information about the target was maintained in memory, altered the direction and the occurrence of subsequent saccades. Stimulation during other intervals of the memory task or during the delay period of the visually guided saccade task had less effect on eye movements. On stimulated trials, and only when the visual stimulus was absent, monkeys occasionally (∼20% of the time) failed to make saccades. When monkeys made saccades in the absence of a visual stimulus, stimulation of the nigra resulted in a rotation of the endpoints ipsilaterally (∼2°) and increased the reaction time of contralaterally directed saccades. When the visual stimulus was present, stimulation of the nigra resulted in no significant rotation and decreased the reaction time of contralaterally directed saccades slightly. Based on these measurements, stimulation during the delay period of the memory-guided saccade task influenced the metrics of saccades much more than did stimulation during the same period of the visually guided saccade task. Because these effects occurred with manipulation of nigral activity well before the initiation of saccades and in trials in which the visual stimulus was absent, we conclude that information from the basal ganglia influences the specification of an action as it is evolving primarily during performance of memory-guided saccades. When visual information is available to guide the specification of the saccade, as occurs during visually guided saccades, basal ganglia information is less influential.

KEYWORDS:

action; decision making; delay period; eye movements; inhibition; memory; movement preparation; vision

PMID:
24259551
PMCID:
PMC3921393
DOI:
10.1152/jn.00002.2013
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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