Smooth pursuit eye movements (SPEM) are performed to track slowly moving visual targets and are accompanied by saccades whenever foveal representation is lost. In the present study, we correlated the cerebral activation as assessed by functional magnetic resonance imaging with parameters of eye movement performance in order to determine the cortical areas involved in the retinal and extraretinal processing of maintaining smooth pursuit velocity (SPV) and generating saccades in 16 healthy males. The stimulus consisted of a target moving at a constant velocity of 10°/s with and without target blanking. During constant target presentation, SPV was positively correlated with the BOLD signal in the right V5 complex and negatively correlated with the BOLD response in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). In the condition with target blanking, additional negative correlations with SPV were found in the left frontal eye field (FEF), the left parietoinsular vestibular cortex (PIVC) and the left angular gyrus. Saccadic frequency was negatively correlated with activations of the right mesial intraparietal sulcus (IPS) during both conditions and the right premotor area during continuous target presentation. We conclude that V5 is directly related to the maintenance of an optimal smooth pursuit velocity during visual feedback, whereas the FEF, PFC, angular gyrus and PIVC are involved in reconstitution and prediction whenever SPV decreases, especially during maintenance of smooth pursuit in the absence of a visual target. Furthermore, we suggest that parietal areas are related to the suppression of saccades during smooth pursuit.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)