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Decoding of a motor command vector from distributed activity in superior colliculus

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 Several alternative methods for decoding the desired motor command vector from neural networks containing distributed, place-coded information have been suggested. The two most widely discussed candidate mechanisms are vector summation (VS) and a center-of-mass (CM) computation. The latter mechanism has also been called vector averaging. The present paper compares the operation of these two methods in a model of an experimentally well-studied neural structure, the superior colliculus (SC). The SC is one structure that has been shown to be responsible for generating saccadic command vectors in the form of distributed neural activity that is topologically arranged across its surface. It has been suggested that the pattern of eye-movement errors obtained following the placement of a collicular lesion can distinguish between these two mechanisms. As a result of this suggestion, the pattern of saccadic errors produced by lesions in the SC have been widely cited to support the CM hypothesis. In the present paper the placement of a discrete lesion is simulated in a recurrent (dynamic) neural network model of the SC. These dynamic connections in the model SC network produce a systematic shift of the locus of distributed activity away from the site of the lesion. The spatiotemporal shift in the location of SC activity then produces a pattern of saccadic errors that appear to support the CM hypothesis, even though ensemble activity in our model colliculus is decoded by VS. This result demonstrates that, when ensemble activity on the SC motor map is dynamically modulated over space and time by intrinsic collicular circuitry, an explicit CM computation is not needed to reproduce the pattern of physiological results that follow focal SC lesions.

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Received: 19 December 2000 / Accepted in revised form: 27 September 2001

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Badler, J., Keller, E. Decoding of a motor command vector from distributed activity in superior colliculus. Biol Cybern 86, 179–189 (2002).

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