Brain and Behavior: A Task-Dependent Eye Movement Study

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Recent electrophysiological and behavioral studies have found similarities in the neurology of pursuit and saccadic eye movements. In a previous study on eye movements using closely matched paradigms for pursuit and saccades, we revealed that both exhibit bimodal distributions of latency to predictable (PRD) and randomized (RND) stimuli; however, the latency to each type of stimulus was different, and there was more segregation of latencies in saccades than pursuit (Burke MR, Barnes GR. 2006. Quantitative differences in smooth pursuit and saccadic eye movements in humans. Exp Brain Res. 175(4):596–608). To investigate the brain areas involved in these tasks, and to search for correlates of behavior, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging during equivalent PRD and RND target presentations. In the contrast pursuit > saccades, which reflects velocity-dependent versus position-dependent activities, respectively, we found higher activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) for pursuit and in the frontopolar region for saccades. In the contrast RND > PRD, which principally reflects activation related to visually driven versus memory-driven responses, respectively, we found a higher sustained level of activation in the frontal eye fields during visually guided eye movements. The reverse contrast revealed higher activity for the memory-guided responses in the supplementary eye fields and the superior parietal lobe. In addition, we found learning-related activation during the PRD condition in visual area V5, the DLPFC, and the cerebellum.

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