Abstract

The smooth pursuit system must interact with the vestibular system to maintain the accuracy of eye movements in space (i.e., gaze-movement) during head movement. Normally, the head moves on the stationary trunk. Vestibular signals cannot distinguish whether the head or whole body is moving. Neck proprioceptive inputs provide information about head movements relative to the trunk. Previous studies have shown that the majority of pursuit neurons in the frontal eye fields (FEF) carry visual information about target velocity, vestibular information about whole-body movements, and signal eye- or gaze-velocity. However, it is unknown whether FEF neurons carry neck proprioceptive signals. By passive trunk-on-head rotation, we tested neck inputs to FEF pursuit neurons in 2 monkeys. The majority of FEF pursuit neurons tested that had horizontal preferred directions (87%) responded to horizontal trunk-on-head rotation. The modulation consisted predominantly of velocity components. Discharge modulation during pursuit and trunk-on-head rotation added linearly. During passive head-on-trunk rotation, modulation to vestibular and neck inputs also added linearly in most neurons, although in half of gaze-velocity neurons neck responses were strongly influenced by the context of neck rotation. Our results suggest that neck inputs could contribute to representing eye- and gaze-velocity FEF signals in trunk coordinates.

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