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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effects of reversible inactivation of the primate mesencephalic reticular formation. I. Hypermetric goal-directed saccades.

Single-neuron recording and electrical microstimulation suggest three roles for the mesencephalic reticular formation (MRF) in oculomotor control: 1) saccade triggering, 2) computation of the horizontal component of saccade amplitude (a feed-forward function), and 3) feedback of an eye velocity signal from the paramedian zone of the pontine reticular formation (PPRF) to higher structures. These ideas were tested using reversible inactivation of the MRF with pressure microinjection of muscimol, a GABA(A) agonist, in four rhesus monkeys prepared for chronic single-neuron and eye movement recording. Reversible inactivation revealed two subregions of the MRF: ventral-caudal and rostral. The ventral-caudal region, which corresponds to the central MRF, the cMRF, or nucleus subcuneiformis, is the focus of this paper and is located lateral to the oculomotor nucleus and caudal to the posterior commissure (PC). Inactivation of the cMRF produced contraversive, upward saccade hypermetria. In three of eight injections, the velocity of hypermetric saccades was too fast for a given saccade amplitude, and saccade duration was shorter. The latency for initiation of most contraversive saccades was markedly reduced. Fixation was also destabilized with the development of macrosaccadic square-wave jerks that were directed toward a contraversive goal in the hypermetric direction. Spontaneous saccades collected in total darkness were also directed toward the same orbital goal, up and to the contraversive side. Three of eight muscimol injections were associated with a shift in the initial position of the eyes. A contralateral head tilt was also observed in 5 out of 8 caudal injections. All ventral-caudal injections with head tilt showed no evidence of vertical postsaccadic drift. This suggested that the observed changes in head movement and posture resulted from inactivation of the caudal MRF and not spread of the muscimol to the interstitial nucleus of Cajal (INC). Evidence of hypermetria strongly supports the idea that the ventral-caudal MRF participates in the feedback control of saccade accuracy. However, development of goal-directed eye movements, as well as a shift in the initial position following some of the cMRF injections, suggest that this region also contributes to the generation of an estimate of target or eye position coded in craniotopic coordinates. Last, the observed reduction in contraversive saccade latency and development of macrosaccadic square-wave jerks supports a role of the MRF in saccade triggering.[1]


  1. Effects of reversible inactivation of the primate mesencephalic reticular formation. I. Hypermetric goal-directed saccades. Waitzman, D.M., Silakov, V.L., DePalma-Bowles, S., Ayers, A.S. J. Neurophysiol. (2000) [Pubmed]
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