The accompanying paper demonstrated two distinct types of central mesencephalic reticular formation (cMRF) neuron that discharged before or after the gaze movement: pre-saccadic or post-saccadic. The movement fields of pre-saccadic neurons were most closely associated with gaze displacement. The movement fields of post-saccadic neurons were most closely associated with head displacement. Here we examine the relationships of the discharge patterns of these cMRF neurons with the temporal aspects of gaze or head movement. For pre-saccadic cMRF neurons with monotonically open movement fields, we demonstrate that burst duration correlated closely with gaze duration. In addition, the peak discharge of the majority of pre-saccadic neurons was closely correlated with peak gaze velocity. In contrast, discharge parameters of post-saccadic neurons were best correlated with the time of peak head velocity. However, the duration and peak discharge of post-saccadic discharge was only weakly related to the duration and peak velocity of head movement. As a result, for the majority of post-saccadic neurons the discharge waveform poorly correlated with the dynamics of head movement. We suggest that the discharge characteristics of pre-saccadic cMRF neurons with monotonically open movement fields are similar to that of direction long-lead burst neurons found previously in the paramedian portion of the pontine reticular formation (PPRF; Hepp and Henn 1983). In light of their anatomic connections with the PPRF, these pre-saccadic neurons could form a parallel pathway that participates in the transformation from the spatial coding of gaze in the superior colliculus (SC) to the temporal coding displayed by excitatory burst neurons of the PPRF. In contrast, closed and non-monotonically open movement field pre-saccadic neurons could play a critical role in feedback to the SC. The current data do not support a role for post-saccadic cMRF neurons in the direct control of head movements, but suggest that they may serve a feedback or reafference function, providing a signal of current head amplitude to upstream regions involved in head control.
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