Vergence neurons identified in the rostral superior colliculus code smooth eye movements in 3D space

Marion R. Van Horn, David M. Waitzman, Kathleen E. Cullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The rostral superior colliculus (rSC) encodes position errors for multiple types of eye movements, including microsaccades, small saccades, smooth pursuit, and fixation. Hereweaddress whether the rSC contributes to the development of neural signals that are suitable for controlling vergence eye movements. We use both single-unit recording and microstimulation techniques in monkey to answer this question. We found that vergence eye movements can be evoked using microstimulation in the rSC. Moreover, among the previously described neurons in rSC, we recorded a novel population of neurons that either increased (i.e., convergence neurons) or decreased (i.e., divergence neurons) their activity during vergence eye movements. In particular, these neurons dynamically encoded changes in vergence angle during vergence tracking, fixation in 3D space and the slow binocular realignment that occurs after disconjugate saccades, but were completely unresponsive during conjugate or the rapid component of disconjugate saccades (i.e., fast vergence) and conjugate smooth pursuit. Together, our microstimulation and single-neuron results suggest that the SC plays a role in the generation of signals required to precisely align the eyes toward targets in 3D space. We propose that accurate maintenance of 3D eye position, critical for the perception of stereopsis, may be mediated via the rSC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7274-7284
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 24 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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