Glissades Are Altered by Lesions to the Oculomotor Vermis but Not by Saccadic Adaptation.
ABSTRACT: Saccadic eye movements enable fast and precise scanning of the visual field, which is partially controlled by the posterior cerebellar vermis. Textbook saccades have a straight trajectory and a unimodal velocity profile, and hence have well-defined epochs of start and end. However, in practice only a fraction of saccades matches this description. One way in which a saccade can deviate from its trajectory is the presence of an overshoot or undershoot at the end of a saccadic eye movement just before fixation. This additional movement, known as a glissade, is regarded as a motor command error and was characterized decades ago but was almost never studied. Using rhesus macaques, we investigated the properties of glissades and changes to glissade kinematics following cerebellar lesions. Additionally, in monkeys with an intact cerebellum, we investigated whether the glissade amplitude can be modulated using multiple adaptation paradigms. Our results show that saccade kinematics are altered by the presence of a glissade, and that glissades do not appear to have any adaptive function as they do not bring the eye closer to the target. Quantification of these results establishes a detailed description of glissades. Further, we show that lesions to the posterior cerebellum have a deleterious effect on both saccade and glissade properties, which recovers over time. Finally, the saccadic adaptation experiments reveal that glissades cannot be modulated by this training paradigm. Together our work offers a functional study of glissades and provides new insight into the cerebellar involvement in this type of motor error.
Project description:The improvement of motor behavior, based on experience, is a form of learning that is critically dependent on the cerebellum. A well studied example of cerebellar motor learning is short-term saccadic adaptation (STSA). In STSA, information on saccadic errors is used to improve future saccades. The information optimizing saccade metrics is conveyed by Purkinje cells simple spikes (PC-SS) because they are the critical input to the premotor circuits for saccades. We recorded PC-SS of monkeys undergoing STSA to reveal the code used for improving behavior. We found that the discharge of individual PC-SS was unable to account for the behavioral changes. The PC-SS population burst (PB), however, exhibited changes that closely paralleled the qualitatively different changes of saccade kinematics associated with gain-increase and gain-decrease STSA, respectively. Gain-increase STSA, characterized by an increase in saccade duration, replicates the relationship between saccade duration and the end of the PB valid for unadapted saccades. In contrast, gain-decrease STSA, which sports normal saccade duration but reduced saccadic velocity, is characterized by a PB that ends well before the adapted saccade. This suggests that the duration of normal as well as gain-increased saccades is determined by appropriately setting the end of PB end. However, the duration of gain-decreased saccades is apparently not modified by the cerebellum because the PB signals ends too early to determine saccade end. In summary, STSA, and most probably cerebellar-dependent learning in general, is based on optimizing the shape of a PC-SS population response.
Project description:Saccadic adaptation is the motor learning process that keeps saccade amplitudes on target. This process is eye position specific: amplitude adaptation that is induced for a saccade at one particular location in the visual field transfers incompletely to saccades at other locations. In our current study, we investigated wether this eye position signal corresponds to the initial or to the final eye position of the saccade. Each case would have different implications on the mechanisms of adaptation. The initial eye position is not directly available, when the adaptation driving post saccadic error signal is received. On the other hand the final eye position signal is not available, when the motor command for the saccade is calculated. In six human subjects we adapted a saccade of 15 degree amplitude that started at a constant position. We then measured the transfer of adaptation to test saccades of 10 and 20 degree amplitude. In each case we compared test saccades that matched the start position of the adapted saccade to those that matched the target of the adapted saccade. We found significantly more transfer of adaptation to test saccades with the same start position than to test saccades with the same target position. The results indicate that saccadic adaptation is specific to the initial eye position. This is consistent with a previously proposed effect of gain field modulated input from areas like the frontal eye field, the lateral intraparietal area and the superior colliculus into the cerebellar adaptation circuitry.
Project description:The superior colliculus (SC) generates saccades by recruiting a population of cells in its topographically organized motor map. Supra-threshold electrical stimulation in the SC produces a normometric saccade with little effect of the stimulation parameters. Moreover, the kinematics of electrically evoked saccades strongly resemble natural, visual-evoked saccades. These findings support models in which the saccade vector is determined by a center-of-gravity computation of activated neurons, while trajectory and kinematics arise in brainstem-cerebellar feedback circuits. Recent single-unit recordings, however, have indicated that the SC population also specifies the instantaneous saccade kinematics, supporting an alternative model, in which the saccade trajectory results from dynamic summation of movement effects of all SC spike trains. Here we reconcile the linear summation model with stimulation results, by assuming that the electric field directly activates a relatively small set of neurons around the electrode tip, which subsequently sets up a large population response through lateral synaptic interactions.
Project description:Eye movements are frequently considered diagnostic markers indicating involvement of the cerebellum. Impaired amplitude of saccades (saccade dysmetria), impaired gaze holding function (horizontal or downbeat nystagmus), and interrupted (choppy) pursuit are typically considered hallmarks of cerebellar disorders. While saccade dysmetria is a frequently considered abnormality, the velocity of saccades are rarely considered part of the constellation of cerebellar involvement. Reduced saccade velocity, frequently called "slow saccades" are typically seen in a classic disorder of the midbrain called progressive supranuclear palsy. It is also traditionally diagnostic of spinocerebellar ataxia type 2. In addition to its common causes, the slowness of vertical saccades is not rare in cerebellar disorders. Frequently this phenomenology is seen in multisystem involvement that substantially involves the cerebellum. In this review we will first discuss the physiological basis and the biological need for high saccade velocities. In subsequent sections we will discuss disorders of cerebellum that are known to cause slowing of saccades. We will then discuss possible pathology and novel therapeutic strategies.
Project description:Saccades and smooth pursuit eye movements (SPEM) are two types of goal-directed eye movements whose kinematics differ profoundly, a fact that may have contributed to the notion that the underlying cerebellar substrates are separated. However, it is suggested that some Purkinje cells (PCs) in the oculomotor vermis (OMV) of monkey cerebellum may be involved in both saccades and SPEM, a puzzling finding in view of the different kinematic demands of the two types of eye movements. Such 'dual' OMV PCs might be oddities with little if any functional relevance. On the other hand, they might be representatives of a generic mechanism serving as common ground for saccades and SPEM. In our present study, we found that both saccade- and SPEM-related responses of individual PCs could be predicted well by linear combinations of eye acceleration, velocity and position. The relative weights of the contributions that these three kinematic parameters made depended on the type of eye movement. Whereas in the case of saccades eye position was the most important independent variable, it was velocity in the case of SPEM. This dissociation is in accordance with standard models of saccades and SPEM control which emphasize eye position and velocity respectively as the relevant controlled state variables.
Project description:Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show atypical scan paths during social interaction and when viewing faces, and recent evidence suggests that they also show abnormal saccadic eye movement dynamics and accuracy when viewing less complex and non-social stimuli. Eye movements are a uniquely promising target for studies of ASD as their spatial and temporal characteristics can be measured precisely and the brain circuits supporting them are well-defined. Control of saccade metrics is supported by discrete circuits within the cerebellum and brainstem - two brain regions implicated in magnetic resonance (MR) morphometry and histopathological studies of ASD. The functional integrity of these distinct brain systems can be examined by evaluating different parameters of visually-guided saccades.A total of 65 participants with ASD and 43 healthy controls, matched on age (between 6 and 44-years-old), gender and nonverbal IQ made saccades to peripheral targets. To examine the influence of attentional processes, blocked gap and overlap trials were presented. We examined saccade latency, accuracy and dynamics, as well as the trial-to-trial variability of participants' performance.Saccades of individuals with ASD were characterized by reduced accuracy, elevated variability in accuracy across trials, and reduced peak velocity and prolonged duration. In addition, their saccades took longer to accelerate to peak velocity, with no alteration in the duration of saccade deceleration. Gap/overlap effects on saccade latencies were similar across groups, suggesting that visual orienting and attention systems are relatively spared in ASD. Age-related changes did not differ across groups.Deficits precisely and consistently directing eye movements suggest impairment in the error-reducing function of the cerebellum in ASD. Atypical increases in the duration of movement acceleration combined with lower peak saccade velocities implicate pontine nuclei, specifically suggesting reduced excitatory activity in burst cells that drive saccades relative to inhibitory activity in omnipause cells that maintain stable fixation. Thus, our findings suggest that both cerebellar and brainstem abnormalities contribute to altered sensorimotor control in ASD.
Project description:Increasing evidence suggests a cerebellar contribution to modulate cognitive aspects of motor behavior and executive functions. Supporting findings come from studies on patients with neurodegenerative diseases, in which however, given the extent of the disease, the specific role of the cerebellum, could not be clearly isolated. Anti-saccades are considered a sensitive tool to test executive functions. The anti-saccade underlying neural network, consisting of different cortical areas and their downstream connections including the lateral cerebellum, has been largely clarified. To separate the role of the cerebellum with respect to other cortical structures in executive control, we compared the anti-saccade performances in two distinct cohorts of patients with cerebellar disorders (with and without cerebral cortical involvement).Eye movements during the execution of anti-saccades were recorded in 12 patients with spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (a cortical-subcortical neurodegenerative disease), 10 patients with late onset cerebellar ataxia (an isolated cerebellar atrophy), and 34 matched controls.In the anti-saccade task, besides dynamic changes already demonstrated in the pro-saccades of these patients, we found in both groups of cerebellar patients prolonged latency with larger variability than normal and increased directional error rate. Errors, however, were corrected by cerebellar patients as frequently as normal. No significant differences were found in patients with and without cortical involvement.Our results indicate, in a large cohort of cerebellar patients, that the cerebellum plays a critical role in the regulation of executive motor control not only, as well known, by controlling the end of a movement, but also modulating its initiation and reducing reflexive responses that would perturb voluntary actions.
Project description:The eyes do not stay perfectly still during attempted fixation; fixational eye movements and saccadic intrusions (SIs) continuously change the position of gaze. The most common type of SI, square-wave jerks (SWJs), consists of saccade pairs that appear purely horizontal on clinical inspection: the first saccade moves the eye away from the fixation target, and after a short interval, the second saccade brings it back toward the target. SWJs are prevalent in certain neurological disorders, including progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). Here, we developed an objective method to identify SWJs. We found that SWJs are more frequent, larger, and more markedly horizontal in PSP patients than in healthy human subjects. Furthermore, the loss of a vertical component in fixational saccades and SWJs was the eye movement feature that best distinguished PSP patients from controls. We moreover determined that, in PSP patients and controls, the larger the saccade the more likely it was part of a SWJ. Furthermore, saccades produced by PSP patients had equivalent properties whether they were part of a SWJ or not, suggesting that normal fixational saccades (microsaccades) are rare in PSP. We propose that fixational saccades and SIs are generated by the same neural circuit and that, both in PSP patients and in controls, SWJs result from a coupling mechanism that generates a second corrective saccade shortly after a large fixation saccade. Because of brainstem and/or cerebellum impairment, fixational saccades in PSP are abnormally large and thus more likely to trigger a corrective saccade, giving rise to SWJs.
Project description:Saccadic eye movements are the result of neural decisions about where to move the eyes. These decisions are based on visual information accumulated before the saccade; however, during an approximately 100-ms interval immediately before the initiation of an eye movement, new visual information cannot influence the decision. Does the brain simply ignore information presented during this brief interval or is the information used for the subsequent saccade? Our study examines how and when the brain integrates visual information through time to drive saccades during visual search. We introduce a new technique, saccade-contingent reverse correlation, that measures the time course of visual information accrual driving the first and second saccades. Observers searched for a contrast-defined target among distractors. Independent contrast noise was added to the target and distractors every 25 ms. Only noise presented in the time interval in which the brain accumulates information will influence the saccadic decisions. Therefore, we can retrieve the time course of saccadic information accrual by averaging the time course of the noise, aligned to saccade initiation, across all trials with saccades to distractors. Results show that before the first saccade, visual information is being accumulated simultaneously for the first and second saccades. Furthermore, information presented immediately before the first saccade is not used in making the first saccadic decision but instead is stored and used by the neural processes driving the second saccade.
Project description:Each time we make an eye movement, positions of objects on the retina change. In order to keep track of relevant objects their positions have to be updated. The situation becomes even more complex if the object is no longer present in the world and has to be held in memory. In the present study, we used saccadic curvature to investigate the time-course of updating a memorized location across saccades. Previous studies have shown that a memorized location competes with a saccade target for selection on the oculomotor map, which leads to saccades curving away from it. In our study participants performed a sequence of two saccades while keeping a location in memory. The trajectory of the second saccade was used to measure when the memorized location was updated after the first saccade. The results showed that the memorized location was rapidly updated with the eyes curving away from its spatial coordinates within 130 ms after the first eye movement. The time-course of updating was comparable to the updating of an exogenously attended location, and depended on how well the location was memorized.