Discharge dynamics of oculomotor neural integrator neurons during conjugate and disjunctive saccades and fixation

Pierre A. Sylvestre, Julia T.L. Choi, Kathleen E. Cullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Burst-tonic (BT) neurons in the prepositus hypoglossi and adjacent medial vestibular nuclei are important elements of the neural integrator for horizontal eye movements. While the metrics of their discharges have been studied during conjugate saccades (where the eyes rotate with similar dynamics), their role during disjunctive saccades (where the eyes rotate with markedly different dynamics to account for differences in depths between saccadic targets) remains completely unexplored. In this report, we provide the first detailed quantification of the discharge dynamics of BT neurons during conjugate saccades, disjunctive saccades, and disjunctive fixation. We show that these neurons carry both significant eye position and eye velocity-related signals during conjugate saccades as well as smaller, yet important, "slide" and eye acceleration terms. Further, we demonstrate that a majority of BT neurons, during disjunctive fixation and disjunctive saccades, preferentially encode the position and the velocity of a single eye; only few BT neurons equally encode the movements of both eyes (i.e., have conjugate sensitivities). We argue that BT neurons in the nucleus prepositus hypoglossi/medial vestibular nucleus play an important role in the generation of unequal eye movements during disjunctive saccades, and carry appropriate information to shape the saccadic discharges of the abducens nucleus neurons to which they project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-754
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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