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Neuroscience. 2006 Feb;137(3):1051-73. Epub 2005 Nov 17.

Eye movements evoked by electrical microstimulation of the mesencephalic reticular formation in goldfish.

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Department of Physiology and Zoology, Fac. Biología, University of Sevilla, Avda. Reina Mercedes, 6, 41012 Sevilla, Spain.


Anatomical studies in goldfish show that the tectofugal axons provide a large number of boutons within the mesencephalic reticular formation. Electrical stimulation, reversible inactivation and cell recording in the primate central mesencephalic reticular formation have suggested that it participates in the control of rapid eye movements (saccades). Moreover, the role of this tecto-recipient area in the generation of saccadic eye movements in fish is unknown. In this study we show that the electrical microstimulation of the mesencephalic reticular formation of goldfish evoked short latency saccadic eye movements in any direction (contraversive or ipsiversive, upward or downward). Movements of the eyes were usually disjunctive. Based on the location of the sites from which eye movements were evoked and the preferred saccade direction, eye movements were divided into different groups: pure vertical saccades were mainly elicited from the rostral mesencephalic reticular formation, while oblique and pure horizontal were largely evoked from middle and caudal mesencephalic reticular formation zones. The direction and amplitude of pure vertical and horizontal saccades were unaffected by initial eye position. However the amplitude, but not the direction of most oblique saccades was systematically modified by initial eye position. At the same time, the amplitude of elicited saccades did not vary in any consistent manner along either the anteroposterior, dorsoventral or mediolateral axes (i.e. there was no topographic organization of the mesencephalic reticular formation with respect to amplitude). In addition to these groups of movements, we found convergent and goal-directed saccades evoked primarily from the anterior and posterior mesencephalic reticular formation, respectively. Finally, the metric and kinetic characteristics of saccades could be manipulated by changes in the stimulation parameters. We conclude that the mesencephalic reticular formation in goldfish shares physiological functions that correspond closely with those found in mammals.

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