Kinematics and eye-head coordination of gaze shifts evoked from different sites in the superior colliculus of the cat

UMR CNRS 6152 Mouvement et Perception, Faculté des Sciences du Sport, Université de la Méditerranée, CP 910, 163 avenue de Luminy, 13288 Marseille Cedex 09, France.
The Journal of Physiology (Impact Factor: 5.04). 12/2006; 577(Pt 3):779-94. DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2006.113720
Source: PubMed


Shifting gaze requires precise coordination of eye and head movements. It is clear that the superior colliculus (SC) is involved with saccadic gaze shifts. Here we investigate its role in controlling both eye and head movements during gaze shifts. Gaze shifts of the same amplitude can be evoked from different SC sites by controlled electrical microstimulation. To describe how the SC coordinates the eye and the head, we compare the characteristics of these amplitude-matched gaze shifts evoked from different SC sites. We show that matched amplitude gaze shifts elicited from progressively more caudal sites are progressively slower and associated with a greater head contribution. Stimulation at more caudal SC sites decreased the peak velocity of the eye but not of the head, suggesting that the lower peak gaze velocity for the caudal sites is due to the increased contribution of the slower-moving head. Eye-head coordination across the SC motor map is also indicated by the relative latencies of the eye and head movements. For some amplitudes of gaze shift, rostral stimulation evoked eye movement before head movement, whereas this reversed with caudal stimulation, which caused the head to move before the eyes. These results show that gaze shifts of similar amplitude evoked from different SC sites are produced with different kinematics and coordination of eye and head movements. In other words, gaze shifts evoked from different SC sites follow different amplitude-velocity curves, with different eye-head contributions. These findings shed light on mechanisms used by the central nervous system to translate a high-level motor representation (a desired gaze displacement on the SC map) into motor commands appropriate for the involved body segments (the eye and the head).

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