Premotor Circuits Controlling Eyelid Movements in Conjunction With Vertical Saccades in the Cat: II. Interstitial Nucleus of Cajal

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Vertical saccadic eye movements are accompanied by concurrent eyelid movements in the same direction. The interstitial nucleus of Cajal (InC) controls eye position for vertical eye movements and may also control saccade-related lid position as well. This study investigates whether the InC serves as a premotor center for eyelid saccades, by employing dual-tracer methods in cats to label both the projections of the InC and the motoneurons supplying the levator palpebrae superioris (LPS) muscle, which lie in the caudal central subdivision (CCS) of the oculomotor complex. Injections of biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) into the InC anterogradely labeled axons that terminated bilaterally throughout the CCS and in the oculomotor nuclei proper. Labeled terminals lay in close association with labeled LPS motoneurons, which were retrogradely labeled following injections of wheat germ agglutinin-conjugated horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) into the muscle. Ultrastructural investigation revealed that most terminals contained spherical vesicles and formed asymmetric synaptic contacts with the labeled motoneurons. These results strongly suggest that the InC monosynaptically controls lid movements in conjunction with vertical eye movements, including saccades. To identify the neurons of origin for this pathway, WGA-HRP injections were centered in the CCS. These experiments indicate that lid and eye motoneurons may share a common source of bilateral InC input. Thus, a common vertical position signal may be employed to maintain the lid and eye at appropriate elevations during fixation, such that the lid sits just above the pupil, allowing unobstructed vision, but at the ready to protect the cornea. J. Comp. Neurol. 500:676–692, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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