Regulation of the gain of visually guided smooth-pursuit eye movements by frontal cortex.
In studies of the neural mechanisms giving rise to behaviour, changes in the neural and behavioural responses produced by a given stimulus have been widely reported. This 'gain control' can boost the responses to sensory inputs that are particularly relevant, select among reflexes for execution by motoneurons or emphasize specific movement targets. Gain control is also an integral part of the smooth-pursuit eye movement system. One signature of gain control is that a brief perturbation of a stationary target during fixation causes tiny eye movements, whereas the same perturbation of a moving target during the active state of accurate pursuit causes large responses. Here we show that electrical stimulation of the smooth-pursuit eye movement region in the arcuate sulcus of the frontal lobe ('the frontal pursuit area', FPA) mimics the active state of pursuit. Such stimulation enhances the response to a brief perturbation of target motion, regardless of the direction of motion. We postulate that the FPA sets the gain of pursuit, thereby participating in target selection for pursuit.
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