Activity in deep intermediate layer collicular neurons during interrupted saccades
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The activity of neurons located in the deep intermediate and adjacent deep layers (hereafter called just deep intermediate layer neurons) of the superior colliculus (SC) in monkeys was recorded during saccades interrupted by electrical stimulation of the brainstem omnipause neuron (OPN) region. The goal of the experiment was to determine if these neurons maintained their discharge during the saccadic interruption, and, thus, could potentially provide a memory trace for the intended movement which ends accurately on target in spite of the perturbation. The collicular neurons recorded in the present study were located in the rostral three-fifths of the colliculus. Most of these cells tended to show considerable presaccadic activity during a delayed saccade paradigm, and, therefore, probably overlap with the population of SC cells called buildup neurons or prelude bursters in previous studies. The effect of electrical stimulation in the OPN region (which interrupted ongoing saccades) on the discharge of these neurons was measured by computing the percentage reduction in a cell's activity compared to that present during non-interrupted saccades. During saccade interruption about 70% of deep intermediate layer neurons experienced a major reduction (30% or greater) in their activity, but discharge recovered quickly after the termination of the stimulation as the eyes resumed their movement to finish the saccade on the target. Therefore, the pattern of activity recorded in most of the deep intermediate layer neurons during interrupted saccades qualitatively resembled that previously reported for the saccade-related burst neurons which tend to be located more dorsally in the intermediate layer. In contrast, some of our cells (30%) showed little or no perturbation in their activity caused by the saccade interrupting stimulation. Because all the more dorsally located burst neurons and the majority of our deep intermediate layer neurons show a total or major suppression in their discharge during interrupted saccades, it seems unlikely that the colliculus by itself could maintain an accurate memory of the desired saccadic goal or the remaining dynamic motor error required to account for the accuracy of the resumed movement which occurs following the interruption. However, it remains possible that the smaller proportion of our neurons whose activity was not perturbed during interrupted movements could play a role in the mechanisms underlying saccade accuracy in the interrupted saccade paradigm. Interrupted saccades have longer durations than normal saccades to the same target. Therefore, we investigated whether the discharge of our deeper collicular cells was also necessarily prolonged during interrupted saccades, and, if so, how the prolongation compared to the prolongation of the saccade. Sixty percent of our sample neurons showed a prolongation in discharge that was approximately the same as the prolongation in saccade duration (difference <15 ms in magnitude). The observation that temporal discharge in our neurons was perturbed to roughly match saccadic temporal perturbation suggests that dynamic feedback about ongoing saccadic motion is provided to the colliculus, but does not necessarily imply that this structure is the site responsible for the computation of dynamic motor error.
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