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J Neurophysiol. 1997 Sep;78(3):1373-83.

Spatial processing in the monkey frontal eye field. I. Predictive visual responses.

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Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research, National Eye Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Neurons in the lateral intraparietal area and intermediate layers of the superior colliculus show predictive visual responses. They respond before an impending saccade to a stimulus that will be brought into their receptive field by that saccade. In these experiments we sought to establish whether the monkey frontal eye field had a similar predictive response. We recorded from 100 presaccadic frontal eye field neurons (32 visual cells, 48 visuomovement cells, and 20 movement cells) with the use of the classification criteria of Bruce and Goldberg. We studied each cell in a continuous stimulus task, where the monkey made a saccade that brought a recently appearing stimulus into its receptive field. The latency of response in the continuous stimulus task varied from 52 ms before the saccade to 272 ms after the saccade. We classified cells as having predictive visual responses if their latency in the continuous stimulus task was less than the latency of their visual ON response to a stimulus in their receptive or movement field as described in a visual fixation task. Thirty-four percent (11 of 32) of the visual cells, 31% (15 of 48) of the visuomovement cells, and no (0 of 20) movement cells showed a predictive visual response. The cells with predictive responses never responded to the stimulus when the monkey did not make the saccade that would bring that stimulus into the receptive field, and never discharged in association with that saccade unless it brought a stimulus into the receptive field. The response in the continuous stimulus task was almost always weaker than the visual ON response to a stimulus flashed in the receptive field. Because cells with visual responses but not cells with movement activity alone showed the effect, we conclude that the predictive visual response is a property of the visual processing in the frontal eye field, i.e., a response to the stimulus in the future receptive field. It is not dependent on the actual planning or execution of a saccade to that stimulus. We suggest that the predictive visual mechanism is one in which the brain dynamically calculates the spatial location of objects in terms of desired displacement. This enables the oculomotor system to perform in a spatially accurate manner when there is a dissonance between the retinal location of a target and the saccade necessary to acquire that target. This mechanism does not require an explicit calculation of target position in some supraretinal coordinate system.

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