Frontal eye field neurons with spatial representations predicted by their subcortical input.

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The frontal eye field (FEF) is a cortical structure involved in cognitive aspects of eye movement control. Neurons in the FEF, as in most of cerebral cortex, primarily represent contralateral space. They fire for visual stimuli in the contralateral field and for saccadic eye movements made to those stimuli. Yet many FEF neurons engage in sophisticated functions that require flexible spatial representations such as shifting receptive fields and vector subtraction. Such functions require knowledge about all of space, including the ipsilateral hemifield. How does the FEF gain access to ipsilateral information? Here, we provide evidence that one source of ipsilateral information may be the opposite superior colliculus (SC) in the midbrain. We physiologically identified neurons in the FEF that receive input from the opposite SC, same-side SC, or both. We found a striking structure-function relationship: the laterality of the response field of an FEF neuron was predicted by the laterality of its SC inputs. FEF neurons with input from the opposite SC had ipsilateral fields, whereas neurons with input from the same-side SC had contralateral fields. FEF neurons with input from both SCs had lateralized fields that could point in any direction. The results suggest that signals from the two SCs provide each FEF with information about all of visual space, a prerequisite for higher level sensorimotor computations.





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Crapse, Trinity B, and Marc A Sommer (2009). Frontal eye field neurons with spatial representations predicted by their subcortical input. J Neurosci, 29(16). pp. 5308–5318. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4906-08.2009 Retrieved from

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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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