Two Types of Neurons in the Primate Globus Pallidus External Segment Play Distinct Roles in Antisaccade Generation

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The globus pallidus external segment (GPe) constitutes part of the indirect pathway of the basal ganglia. Because of inhibitory projections from the striatum, most GPe neurons are expected to reduce activity during movements. However, many GPe neurons in fact display increased activity. We previously found that both excitatory and inhibitory responses were modulated during antisaccades, when eyes were directed away from a visual stimulus. To elucidate the roles of these neurons during antisaccades, we examined neuronal activities as monkeys performed antisaccades, prosaccades, and NoGo tasks under 2 conditions. In the Deliberate condition, the task-rule was instructed by color of the fixation point, while in the Immediate condition, it was given by color of the target. Under both conditions, the increase-type neurons exhibited greater activity during antisaccades compared with the other tasks and neuronal activity negatively correlated with saccade latency. The decrease-type neurons also showed greater modulation during antisaccades but their activity was comparable between NoGo and antisaccade trials in the Immediate condition. These results suggest that the increase-type neurons might play a role in facilitating antisaccades, whereas the decrease-type neurons could mediate signals for reflexive saccade suppression. We propose that these GPe neurons are differently involved in basal ganglia pathways.

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