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J Comp Neurol. 1986 Jul 15;249(3):337-57.

Anatomy and physiology of saccadic burst neurons in the alert squirrel monkey. I. Excitatory burst neurons.


Saccadic burst neurons in the pontine reticular formation have been implicated in the generation of saccades in the horizontal plane on the basis of lesion and extracellular recording studies in the cat and monkey. In the present study, saccadic burst neurons were anatomically and physiologically characterized with intraaxonal recording and injection of horseradish peroxidase in the alert squirrel monkey. A population of burst neurons were found that appear analogous to the excitatory burst neurons (EBNs) described previously in the cat. All neurons are located in the caudal pontine reticular formation and have a major axonal projection to the ipsilateral abducens nucleus. Additional projections were found to the medial vestibular nucleus, the nucleus prepositus, and regions of the pontine and medullary reticular formation rostral, ventral, and caudal to the abducens. All neurons fire exclusively during saccades and have a discharge pattern similar to that of medium-lead burst neurons described previously in the cat and monkey. In most neurons the saccadic burst begins 5-15 msec before saccade onset. Linear relationships exist between burst duration and saccade duration, number of spikes in the burst and saccade amplitude, and firing frequency and instantaneous velocity. Physiological activity of each neuron shows the closest relationship with the amplitude of the saccade component in a particular direction. For all neurons, this on-direction is in the ipsilateral hemifield and is predominantly horizontal, but may have either an upward or downward vertical component. These results support a major role for the EBNs in the monkey in generating the saccadic burst in abducens motoneurons, as well as in contributing to the oculomotor activity in other classes of premotor neurons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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