Eye movement control by the cerebral cortex


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Abstract

Purpose of reviewThis review focuses on eye movement control by the cerebral cortex, mainly in humans. Data have emerged based on the important contribution of recent techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and functional magnetic resonance imaging, which provide complementary results to those of the classical lesion and electrical stimulation studies.Recent findingsThe location of the human frontal eye field and its role in pursuit eye movement control were recently detailed. Cumulative evidence for the role of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in unwanted reflexive saccade inhibition, short-term spatial memory and prediction suggests that this area controls decisional processes governing ocular motor behaviour. The organization of spatial memory in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (short-term), the parahippocampal cortex (medium-term) and the hippocampal formation (long-term) is also reviewed with the results of recent transcranial magnetic stimulation studies. The relatively complicated anatomy of the posterior parietal cortex in humans is briefly described followed by some additional results concerning the location of the parietal eye field - within the posterior half of the intraparietal sulcus - and its role in visuo-spatial integration and attention. The other areas involved in spatial attention are also examined in the light of several recent contributing reports. Lastly, there are also new functional magnetic resonance imaging findings concerning the posterior cingulate cortex, which appears to be mainly involved in the control of externally guided eye movements and attentional mechanisms.SummaryMany new findings on the organization of saccades and pursuit eye movements at the cortical level have recently been reported. Furthermore, eye movements are increasingly used as a tool to elucidate relatively complex neuropsychological processes such as attention, spatial memory, motivation and decisional processes, and a considerable number of reports dealing with these questions have been observed.

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