The Neural Control of Saccadic Eye Movements

David Sparks

With the advent of the chronic single cell recording method in the 1960s, it became possible to record the activity of individual neurons in alert, behaving animals performing behavioral tasks designed to bring the direction, amplitude, and speed of eye movements under experimental control. Research conducted in the intervening years has made it possible to provide a detailed description of the saccadic command signals that are generated by motoneurons and the formation of these signals in premotor brainstem regions. These findings have been assimilated into control systems models that simulate many important behavioral features of saccades.  My talk will focus on the brainstem circuits involved in the control of saccades with an emphasis on differences in the way the command signals are represented at different hierachical levels.