Comparison of Saccades Perturbed by Stimulation of the Rostral Superior Colliculus, the Caudal Superior Colliculus, and the Omnipause Neuron Region
Journal of Neurophysiology
Gandhi, Neeraj J. and Edward L. Keller. Comparison of saccades perturbed by stimulation of the rostral superior colliculus, the caudal superior colliculus, and the omnipause neuron region. J. Neurophysiol. 82: 3236 -3253, 1999. Over the past decade, considerable research efforts have been focused on the role of the rostral superior colliculus (SC) in control of saccades. The most recent theory separates the deeper intermediate layers of the SC into two functional regions: the rostral pole of
... rostral pole of these layers constitutes a fixation zone and the caudal region comprises the saccade zone. Sustained activity of fixation neurons in the fixation zone is argued to maintain fixation and help prevent saccade generation by exciting the omnipause neurons (OPNs) in the brain stem. This hypothesis is in contrast to the traditional view that the SC contains a topographic representation of the saccade motor map on which the rostral pole of the SC encodes signals for generating small saccades (Ͻ2°) instead of preventing them. There is therefore an unresolved controversy about the specific role on the most rostral region of the SC, and we reexamined its functional contribution by quantifying and comparing spatial and temporal trajectories of 30°saccades perturbed by electrical stimulation of the rostral pole and more caudal regions in the SC and of the OPN region. If the rostral pole serves to preserve fixation, then saccades perturbed by stimulation should closely resemble interrupted saccades produced by stimulation of the OPN region. If it also contributes to saccade generation, then the disrupted movements would better compare with redirected saccades observed after stimulation of the caudal SC. Our experiments revealed two significant findings: 1) the locus of stimulation was the primary factor determining the perturbation effect. If the directions of the target-directed saccade and stimulation-evoked saccade were aligned and if the stimulation was delivered within approximately the rostral 2 mm (Ͻ10°amplitude) of SC, the ongoing saccade stopped in midflight but then resumed after stimulation end to reach the original visually specified goal with close to normal accuracy. When stimulation was applied at more caudal sites, the ongoing saccade directly reached the target location without stopping at an intermediate position. If the directions differed considerably, both initial and resumed components were typically observed for all stimulation sites. 2) A quantitative analysis of the saccades perturbed from the fixation zone showed significant deviations from their control spatial trajectories. Thus they resembled redirected saccades induced by caudal SC stimulation and differed significantly from interrupted saccades produced by OPN stimulation. The amplitude of the initial saccade, latency of perturbation, and spatial redirection were greatest for the most caudal sites and decreased gradually for rostral sites. For stimulation sites within the rostral pole of SC, the measures formed a smooth continuation of the trends observed in the saccade zone. As these results argue for the saccade zone concept, we offer reinterpretations of the data used to support the fixation zone model. However, we also discuss scenarios that do not allow an outright rejection of the fixation zone hypothesis.