Pontine Omnipause Activity during Conjugate and Disconjugate Eye Movements in Macaques

Academic Article


  • Previous reports have shown that saccades executed during vergence eye movements are often slower and longer than conjugate saccades. Lesions in the nucleus raphe interpositus, where pontine omnipause neurons (OPNs) are located, were also shown to result in slower and longer saccades. If vergence transiently suppresses the activity of the OPNs just before a saccade, then reduced presaccadic activity might mimic the behavioral effects of a lesion. To test this hypothesis, 64 OPNs were recorded from 7 alert rhesus monkeys during smooth vergence and saccades with and without vergence. The firing rate of many OPNs was modulated by static vergence angle but not by version and showed transient changes during slow vergence without saccades. This modulation was smooth, and not the abrupt pause seen for saccades, indicating that OPNs do not act as gates for vergence commands. We confirmed that saccades made during both convergence and divergence are significantly slower and longer than conjugate saccades. OPNs paused for all saccades, and the pause lead (interval between pause onset and saccadic onset) was significantly longer for saccades with convergence, in agreement with our hypothesis. Contrary to our hypothesis, pause lead was not longer for saccades with divergence, even though these saccades were slowed as much as those occurring during convergence. Furthermore, there was no significant correlation, on a trial-by-trial basis, between pause lead and saccadic slowing. These results suggest that it is unlikely that presaccadic slowing of OPNs is responsible for the slower saccades seen during vergence movements.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Busettini C; Mays LE
  • Start Page

  • 3838
  • End Page

  • 3853
  • Volume

  • 90
  • Issue

  • 6