Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 69–80 | Cite as

Discharge of frontal eye field neurons during saccadic and following eye movements in unanesthetized monkeys

  • Emilio Bizzi


The cortical mechanism of eye-movement control was investigated by recording single cell activity from the frontal eye field (FEF) in unanesthetized monkeys seated in a primate chair with head restrained. Two types of cells (I and II) were found. Type I neurons fired during voluntary saccades occurring in a given direction and during the fast phase of nystagmus. Cells of this type were silent during slow pursuit movement. Type II cells showed steady discharge when the eyes were oriented in a specific direction. These cells discharged also during smooth pursuit movements and the slow phase of nystagmus, provided that the eyes were moving across positions which would have been associated with neuronal activity had the eyes come to rest there. All of Type II and a few of Type I neurons were identified by antidromic response to stimulation of the cerebral peduncle. These results indicate that cortical neurons have patterns of discharge distinctly related either to saccadic or to pursuit movements, in line with the view that these two different types of eye movement are generated by distinct neuronal mechanisms.

Key Words

Eye movements Cortical neurons Erontal eye fields Monkey 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bizzi, E.: Discharge of Frontal Eye Field neurons during eye movements in unanesthetized monkeys. Science 157, 1588–1590 (1967).Google Scholar
  2. Bossom, J.: Unpublished results.Google Scholar
  3. Brindley, G.S., and P.A. Merton: The absence of position sence in the human eye. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 153, 127–130 (1960).Google Scholar
  4. Cooper, S., P.M. Daniel and D. Whitteridge: Muscle spindles and other sensory endings in the extrinsic eye muscles; the physiology and anatomy of these receptors and their connections with the brainstem. Brain 78, 564–583 (1955).Google Scholar
  5. Crosby, E.C., R.E. Yoss and J.W. Henderson: The mammalian midbrain and isthmus regions. Part II, the fiber connections. D. the pattern for eye movements on the frontal eye field and the discharge of specific portions of this field to and through midbrain levels. J. comp. Neurol. 97, 357–383 (1952).Google Scholar
  6. Dodge, R.: Five types of eye movements in the horizontal meridian plane of the field of regard. Amer. J. Physiol. 8, 307–329 (1903).Google Scholar
  7. Davson, H.: The Eye. Vol. 3, pp. 63–143. New York: Academic Press 1962.Google Scholar
  8. Evarts, E.V.: Pyramidal tract activity associated with a conditioned hand movement in the monkey. J. Neurophysiol. 29, 1011–1027 (1966a).Google Scholar
  9. Evarts, E.V.: Methods for recording activity of individual neurons in moving animals. In: Methods in medical research, pp. 241–250. Ed. by R.F. Rushmer. Chicago/Ill.: Year Book Medical Publisher 1966b.Google Scholar
  10. Evarts, E.V.: Relation of pyramidal tract activity to force exerted during voluntary movement. J. Neurophysiol. (1968a) (in press).Google Scholar
  11. Evarts, E.V.: A technique for recording activity of subcortical neurons in moving animals. Electroenceph. clin. Neurophysiol. 24, 83–86 (1968b).Google Scholar
  12. Ferrier, D.: Experiments on the brain of monkeys. Proc. roy. Soc. B 23, 409–430 (1875).Google Scholar
  13. Fender, D.H.: The eye-movement control system: evolution of a model. In: Neural theory and modeling, pp. 306–324. R.F. Reiss. s Stanford: Stanford University Press 1964.Google Scholar
  14. Fuchs, A.F.: Saccadic and smooth pursuit eye movements in the monkey. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 191, 609–631 (1967).Google Scholar
  15. Grüttner, R.: Experimentelle Untersuchungen über den optokinetischen Nystagmus. Z. Sinnesphysiol. 68, 1–48 (1939).Google Scholar
  16. Hess, A., and G. Pilar: Slow fibers in the extraocular muscles of the cat. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 169, 780–789 (1963).Google Scholar
  17. Horridge, G.A.: Position of onset of fast phase in optokinetic nystagmus. Nature (Lond.) 216, 1004–1005 (1967).Google Scholar
  18. Kuypers, H.G.J.M., and D.G. Lawrence: Cortical projections to the red nucleus and the brainstem in the Rhesus monkey. Brain Res. 4, 151–188 (1967).Google Scholar
  19. Pasik, P., and T. Pasik: Oculomotor functions in monkeys with lesions of the cerebrum and the superior colliculi. In: The Oculomotor System, pp. 40–80. Ed. by M.B. Bender. New York: Hoeber 1964.Google Scholar
  20. Rashbass, C.: The relationship between saccadic and smooth tracking eye movements. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 159, 326–338 (1961).Google Scholar
  21. Robinson, D.A.: The mechanism of human saccadic eye movement. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 174, 245–264 (1964).Google Scholar
  22. Robinson, D.A.: The mechanism of human smooth pursuit eye movement. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 180, 569–591 (1965).Google Scholar
  23. Skakhnovich, A.R., and R.B. Nebieridze: Mechanism controlling the oculomotor apparatus of the rabbit. Fiziol. Zh. (Mosk.) 53, 393 (1967). In: Neuroscience Translations, pp. 33–39. Ed. by R.W. Doty. Bethesda: Md. Fed. Americ. Soc. for Experimental Biol. 1967–1968.Google Scholar
  24. Starr, A.: A disorder of rapid eye movements in Huntington's chorea. Brain 90, 545–564 (1967).Google Scholar
  25. Teuber, H.-L.: The frontal lobes and their function: further observations on rodents, carnivores, subhuman primates, and man. Int. J. Neurol. (Montevideo) 5, 282–300 (1966).Google Scholar
  26. Teuber, H.-L.: The riddle of Frontal lobe function in man. In: The frontal granular cortex and behavior, pp. 410–441. Ed. by J.M. Warren and K. Akert. New York: McGraw-Hill 1964.Google Scholar
  27. Teuber, H.-L., and M. Mishkin: Judgement of visual and postural vertical after brain injury. J. Psychol. 38, 161–175 (1954).Google Scholar
  28. Wagman, I.H.: Eye movements induced by electric stimulation of cerebrum in monkeys and their relationship to bodily movements. In: The oculomotor system, pp. 18–39. Ed. by M.B. Bender. New York: Hoeber 1964.Google Scholar
  29. Westheimer, G.: Eye movement responses to a horizontally moving visual stimulus. Arch. Ophthal. (N. Y.) 52, 932–941 (1954a).Google Scholar
  30. Westheimer, G.: Mechanism of saccadic eye movements. Arch. Ophthal. (N. Y.) 52, 710–724 (1954b).Google Scholar
  31. Young, L., and L. Stark: Variable feedback experiments testing a sampled data model for eye tracking movements. Institute of Electrical Electronics Engineers, Transactions on Human Factors in Electronics. HFE-4. pp. 38–51 (1963).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© ? 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emilio Bizzi
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory of Clinical ScienceNational Institute of Mental HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Istituto di Ricerche Cardiovascolari Universitá di MilanoMilanoItaly

Personalised recommendations