Polar-angle representation of saccadic eye movements in human superior colliculus

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The superior colliculus (SC) is a layered midbrain structure involved in directing both head and eye movements and coordinating visual attention. Although a retinotopic organization for the mediation of saccadic eye-movements has been shown in monkey SC, in human SC the topography of saccades has not been confirmed. Here, a novel experimental paradigm was performed by five participants (one female) while high-resolution (1.2-mm) functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure activity evoked by saccadic eye movements within human SC. Results provide three critical observations about the topography of the SC: (1) saccades along the superior-inferior visual axis are mapped across the medial-lateral anatomy of the SC; (2) the saccadic eye-movement representation is in register with the retinotopic organization of visual stimulation; and (3) activity evoked by saccades occurs deeper within SC than that evoked by visual stimulation. These approaches lay the foundation for studying the organization of human subcortical – and enhanced cortical mapping – of eye-movement mechanisms.

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