Coordinate system for learning in the smooth pursuit eye movements of monkeys.
Learning was induced in smooth pursuit eye movements by repeated presentation of targets that moved at one speed for 100 msec and then changed to a second, higher or lower, speed. The learned changes, measured as eye acceleration for the first 100 msec of pursuit, were largest in a "late" interval from 50 to 80 msec after the onset of pursuit and were smaller and less consistent in the earliest 30 msec of pursuit. In each experiment, target motion in one direction consisted of learning trials, whereas target motion in the opposite (control) direction consisted of trials in which targets moved at a constant speed for the entire duration of the trial. Under these conditions, the learning did not generalize to the control direction. For target motion in the learning direction, the changes in pursuit generalized to responses evoked by targets moving at speeds ranging from 15 to 45 degrees/sec as well as to targets of different colors and sizes. Although learning was induced at the initiation of pursuit, it generalized to the response to image motion in the learning direction when it was presented during pursuit in the learning direction. However, learning did not generalize to the response to image motion in the learning direction when it was presented during pursuit in the control direction. The results suggest that the learning does not occur in purely sensory or motor coordinates but in an intermediate reference frame at least partly defined by the direction of eye movement. The selectivity of learning provides new evidence for a previously hypothesized neural "switch" that gates visual information on the basis of movement direction. This selectivity also suggests that the locus of pursuit learning is in pathways related to the operation of the switch.
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