Context-dependent smooth eye movements evoked by stationary visual stimuli in trained monkeys.
The appearance of a stationary but irrelevant cue triggers a smooth eye movement away from the position of the cue in monkeys that have been trained extensively to smoothly track the motion of moving targets while not making saccades to the stationary cue. We have analyzed the parameters that regulate the size of the cue-evoked smooth eye movement and examined whether presentation of the cue changes the initiation of pursuit for subsequent steps of target velocity. Cues evoked smooth eye movements in blocks of target motions that required smooth pursuit to moving targets, but evoked much smaller smooth eye movements in blocks that required saccades to stationary targets. The direction of the cue-evoked eye movement was always opposite to the position of the cue and did not depend on whether subsequent target motion was toward or away from the position of fixation. The latency of the cue-evoked smooth eye movement was near 100 ms and was slightly longer than the latency of pursuit for target motion away from the position of fixation. The size of the cue-evoked smooth eye movement was as large as 10 degrees /s and decreased as functions of the eccentricity of the cue and the illumination of the experimental room. To study the initiation of pursuit in the wake of the cues, we used bilateral cues at equal eccentricities to the right and left of the position of fixation. These evoked smaller eye velocities that were consistent with vector averaging of the responses to each cue. In the wake of bilateral cues, the initiation of pursuit was enhanced for target motion away from the position of fixation, but not for target motion toward the position of fixation. We suggest that the cue-evoked smooth eye movement is related to a previously postulated on-line gain control for pursuit, and that it is a side-effect of sudden activation of the gain-controlling element.
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