Responses of fibers in medial longitudinal fasciculus (MLF) of alert monkeys during horizontal and vertical conjugate eye movements evoked by vestibular or visual stimuli.
Extracellular recordings were obtained from 37 histologically identified MLF fibers near the trochlear nucleus in alert monkeys trained to perform a visual tracking task and subjected to adequate horizontal and vertical vestibular stimulation. The behavioral paradigm permitted independent quantitative assessment of a fiber's response to eye or head movements. 2. According to their discharge pattern, almost all MLF fibers were placed in one of two classes: 1) Horizontal burst-tonic fibers (n = 20). During both vestibular and visually evoked eye movements, burst-tonic fibers discharged in strict relation to horizontal eye movements, exhibiting a burst of activity prior to on-direction saccades and steady firing related to horizontal eye position during fixations. 2) Vertical vestibular plus eye-position fibers (n = 14). Vertical fibers discharged in relation to vertical head velocity in the absence of eye movements and in relation to vertical eye position in the absence of head movement, and paused with saccades in any direction. 3. The quantitative similarity of horizontal burst-tonic fiber discharge to that of ipsilateral medial rectus oculomotoneurons suggests that burst-tonic fibers provide the major excitatory synaptic drive to medial rectus motoneurons during conjugate eye movements of vestibular or visual origin. 4. The discharge pattern of vertical vestibular plus eye-position fibers is significantly different from that of oculomotoneurons, suggesting that additional neural processing of vertical fiber information must occur in the mesencephalon. 5. The functional dichotomy of horizontal and vertical MLF fibers and their contrasting discharge patterns provide new evidence for the anatomic and functional separation of horizontal and vertical eye movement mechanisms in the pons and mesencephalon, respectively.
King, WM; Lisberger, SG; Fuchs, AF
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