Superior colliculus activity related to concurrent processing of saccade goals in a visual search task.

Abstract

Saccades are typically separated by inter-saccadic fixation intervals (ISFIs) of > or =125 ms. During this time, the saccadic system selects a goal and completes the preparatory processes required prior to executing the subsequent movement. However, in tasks in which competing stimuli are presented, two sequentially executed movements to different goals can be separated by much shorter ISFIs. This suggests that the saccadic system is capable of completing many of the preparatory requirements for a second saccade concurrently with the execution of an initial movement. We recorded single neurons in the superior colliculus (SC) during rapid saccade sequences made by rhesus monkeys performing a search task. We found that during the execution of an initial saccade, activity related to the goal of a quickly following second saccade can be simultaneously maintained in the SC motor map. This activity appears to signal the selection or increased salience of the second saccade goal even before the initial saccade has ended. For movements separated by normal ISFIs (> or =125 ms), we did not observe activity related to concurrent processing, presumably because for these longer ISFI responses, the goal of the second saccade is not selected until after the end of the first saccade. These results indicate that, at the time of an initial saccade, the SC does not necessarily act as a strict winner-take-all network. Rather it appears that the salience of a second visual goal can be simultaneously maintained in the SC. This provides evidence that selection or preparatory activity related to the goal of a second saccade can overlap temporally with activity related to an initial saccade and indicates that such concurrent processing is present even in a structure which is fairly close to the motor output.

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@article{McPeek2002SuperiorCA, title={Superior colliculus activity related to concurrent processing of saccade goals in a visual search task.}, author={Robert McPeek and Edward L. Keller}, journal={Journal of neurophysiology}, year={2002}, volume={87 4}, pages={1805-15} }