Electrically evoked saccades from the dorsomedial frontal cortex and frontal eye fields: a parametric evaluation reveals differences between areas.

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Using electrical stimulation to evoke saccades from the dorsomedial frontal cortex (DMFC) and frontal eye fields (FEF) of rhesus monkeys, parametric tests were conducted to compare the excitability properties of these regions. Pulse frequency and pulse current, pulse frequency and train duration, and pulse current and pulse duration were varied to determine threshold functions for a 50% probability of evoking a saccade. Also a wide range of frequencies were tested to evoke saccades, while holding all other parameters constant. For frequencies beyond 150 Hz, the probability of evoking saccades decreased for the DMFC, whereas for the FEF this probability remained at 100%. To evoke saccades readily from the DMFC, train durations of greater than 200 ms were needed; for the FEF, durations of less than 100 ms were sufficient. Even though the chronaxies of neurons residing in the DMFC and FEF were similar (ranging from 0.1 to 0.24 ms) significantly higher currents were required to evoke saccades from the DMFC than FEF. Thus the stimulation parameters that are optimal for evoking saccades from the DMFC differ from those that are optimal for evoking saccades from the FEF. Although the excitability of neurons in the DMFC and FEF are similar (due to similar chronaxies), we suggest that the density of saccade-relevant neurons is higher in the FEF than in the DMFC.







Marc A. Sommer

Professor of Biomedical Engineering

We study circuits for cognition. Using a combination of neurophysiology and biomedical engineering, we focus on the interaction between brain areas during visual perception, decision-making, and motor planning. Specific projects include the role of frontal cortex in metacognition, the role of cerebellar-frontal circuits in action timing, the neural basis of "good enough" decision-making (satisficing), and the neural mechanisms of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

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